Friday, Jun 14, 2024 10:15 [IST]

Last Update: Friday, Jun 14, 2024 04:43 [IST]

Every drop counts

Urban India is grappling with an escalating water crisis that demands immediate and sustained attention. The recurrent water shortages highlight the urgent need to rethink the sustainable use of our fast-depleting aquifers. Reduced river flows, falling water tables, and rapid, unplanned urbanization have exacerbated the harshness of summer across many parts of the country.

Karnataka exemplifies this crisis. The drought, carried over from last year, sparked a water emergency in Bengaluru as early as March. Similarly, Delhi's scorching temperatures have led to a parallel crisis, reigniting longstanding disputes over water allocation. Last month, the Delhi government approached the Supreme Court, seeking an increased share of the Yamuna’s waters. As the world continues to warm, India needs a long-term policy to prevent such conflicts and ensure that citizens do not endure water shortages.

The situation is no different in Sikkim, where expanding towns like Gangtok and Namchi are already suffering from water shortages. The delayed pre-monsoon showers have also severely impacted crop yields, compounding the problem.

Currently, there is minimal coordination between departments handling surface and groundwater, irrigation resources, and drinking water. Water-sharing arrangements between riverine states often disintegrate during periods of scarcity, and plans to harvest rainwater remain largely theoretical, despite the alternating patterns of floods and droughts in most parts of the country.

In recent years, programmes such as the Sahi Fasal Campaign, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, and Atal Bhujal Yojana have made initial strides toward encouraging efficient water use in agriculture. Optimal use of irrigation resources is indeed essential. However, managing water resources on the demand side also requires a thorough analysis of practices at household and industrial levels. Current data on per capita water availability for different users is inadequate and sketchy at best.

To mitigate the impacts of climate change on our already stressed aquifers, it is imperative to incentivize water conservation, reuse, and recycling. This can be achieved through targeted policies and public awareness campaigns. The government must hit the ground running, implementing robust and coordinated measures to manage water resources effectively.

Ultimately, solving India’s water crisis requires a concerted effort that transcends political boundaries and departmental silos. Only through a comprehensive, integrated approach can we hope to secure our water future and protect the well-being of millions of citizens. The time to act is now.


Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi