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  • Writer's pictureLun Jiang

Water Crisis in India

Water is a necessity for life to exist. As humans, we need water to drink and clean. Water is what sustains life and allows humans to prosper. Without this valuable resource, people begin to suffer. In India, 88 million people lack access to safe water.

Many in India face droughts and are suffering. The cause of this would be agriculture and the government’s lack of action. Agriculture is a big way that most people in India survive. They harvest crops and sell them for money. The two biggest crops that are grown are rice and wheat. However, these crops require an abundance of water to grow, contributing to the droughts in India.

Rice is more grown and requires more water. As it gets hotter and hotter, water begins to evaporate, requiring more water to grow. Rice is so water-demanding and other plants would provide food while needing less water, which brings into question why they grow rice. The answer happens to be money.

In India, rice is one of the only crops to have a guaranteed price. Due to this, rice is a safe crop to grow as it guarantees a profit. Farmers want to grow other crops, but their only chance of profiting from agriculture is growing rice.

A pound of rice needs 500 gallons of water, which the irrigation systems in India could not even provide for rice. Farmers mainly rely on well water when growing rice. Governments provided free electricity for well pumps, leading to more rice being grown. However, the groundwater in India began to deplete. In 2017, federal reports estimated that the groundwater would be exhausted by 2039.

Unfortunately, farmers do not have much choice as to what they grow. Farmers spend large amounts of money on well pumps and fertilizers. These things lead to debt in farmer families and create a need to make money to survive, which means they must grow rice if they want any chance of repaying their financial debts.

Climate change is also causing droughts along with agriculture. Climate change has shortened the monsoon rains. These rains, which usually lasted 45 days, now only last 22 days. Even worse, the rain within the duration is far less intense than it used to be.

Another aspect to mention is the potability of water. While people may or may not have access to water, they might not have access to clean water. Some factors that contribute to this are open defecation and water pollution. 26% of Indians practice open defecation and contaminate waters. Bio and chemical pollution are also present and contaminate waters in India. 22% of diseases in India are caused by unsafe drinking water.

The most important factor in all of this is the government’s response and actions: which is practically nonexistent. The water crisis is mainly in rural regions of India, so there is not a lot of media attention around the crisis. However, if the crisis worsens, urban areas will be affected. The government’s water policy is also very poor.

The drought in India is serious and government action is necessary. With an improved water policy or more fixed prices on crops, farmers could use less water. With agriculture being 90% of all water used in India, allowing them to use less water and live a sustainable life will be crucial to helping India with its water crisis along with a stronger water policy that would prevent the drawing of so much water out of the ground.

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