Pune: India's growing population has placed unreasonable demands on its natural resources including water Vice President Hamid Ansari said today.
He pointed to the plight of the Yamuna River - considered among the most polluted in the country - as an example of stressed water resources. Blaming inequitable water distribution, non-utilisation and ill-planned utilisation of water resources for the problem he said that policy makers must prioritise water conservation.
"Deficiency of water results in crop failure and water in excess of the capacity of stream results in flooding, causing widespread loss of life and property," Mr Ansari said. The Vice President was speaking on the centenary celebration of Central Water and Power Research Station in Pune.
"India's proverbial poverty amongst plenty is, to a large extent, related to results from the hydro meteorological condition, inequitable spatial distribution, non-utilisation and ill planned utilisation of water resources," he said.
Summarising the major cause of acute water crisis in the country, Mr Ansari said: "First, India's large population has led to a stress on available water resources. The total amount of usable water has been estimated to be between 700 to 1200 billion cubic meters."
A population of 1.2 billion means India has only 1000 cubic meters of water per person, even using the higher estimates, he said.
The second cause of water stress is poor quality of water because of insufficient and delayed investment in urban water treatment facilities, he explained.
"Water in most rivers in India is largely not fit for drinking. Industrial effluent standards are not enforced for a variety of reasons," he said.
Mr Ansari said the plight of the Yamuna River as it crosses Delhi starkly reflects poor water management. He added that for only 2 per cent of its total flow -- that passes through Delhi - 75 per cent of its pollutants are added.