By Bari Schwartz
Many Indian citizens are struggling to find clean water. And while arid climates place India at a disadvantage, the environment isn’t the only factor.
In one of the rainiest areas of the world, clean water has been hard to find. Not only is this essential resource in scarce supply, but much of the available water has become contaminated with toxins arising out of poor sanitation practices.
With a growing population, this problem must be resolved quickly. An estimate by McKinsey & Company claims that “India would need to double its water-generation capacity by the year 2030 to meet the demands of its surging population.”
Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram has proposed greater funding to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, but the amount granted might not be enough. Although many officials recognize the problem of low levels of clean groundwater, the work needed to maintain the water pumps exceeds current funds.
“India is lagging far behind the rest of the world in providing water and sanitation to both its rural and urban population…not one city in India provides water on an all-day, everyday basis,” says Smita Misra, a senior economist at the World Bank.
Efforts to increase water supplies are not always successful. The conditions needed for optimum sanitation are not there, again due to the costs. India’s largest cities are not immune from these problems:
“Water plants in New Delhi generate far more water per customer than many cities in Europe, but taps in the city operate on average just three hours a day because 30% to 70% of the water is lost to leak pipes.”
In addition to the geographic and monetary factors in play, government agencies have not effectively cooperated, resulting in deficient projects and implementation practices. Without adequate water security in India, it’s clear that economic growth and public health will be stunted.
Bari Schwartz is a development intern at the EastWest Institute’s New York Center.