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01st April 2024 (12 Topics)

Compounding crises: On the impact of a summertime water crisis

Context:

Recent analysis of Central Water Commission data reveals that only 23% of the holding capacity in South India's reservoirs is filled, indicating a looming water crisis.

Factors Contributing to the Crisis:

  • Impact of El Niño Events: The current water crisis in South India is exacerbated by the ongoing El Niño event, one of the strongest recorded in history. El Niño events lead to erratic monsoons, further aggravating water scarcity.
  • Escalating Climate Change: Meteorologists predict worsening conditions due to climate change, with 2023 being the warmest year on record and projections indicating further temperature increases. This exacerbates drought conditions and intensifies water scarcity.
  • Upcoming General Election: With millions of voters expected to spend additional time outdoors during the general election, water demand is likely to rise further, adding pressure to already strained water resources.

Persistent Challenges and Compounding Factors:

  • Inadequate Preparedness: Despite previous water crises and improved policies and forecasting, there remains a gap in preparedness and implementation of effective measures on the ground.
  • Structural Issues: Unplanned urban growth, over-extraction of groundwater, low water reuse efficiency, and encroachment on catchment areas persist, exacerbating the water crisis.
  • Climate Change Compounding Effects: Climate change exacerbates water scarcity and increases the likelihood of simultaneous crises, such as droughts and disease outbreaks, further impacting socio-economic conditions, particularly among marginalized groups.
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