India may face acute water shortage by 2050, a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) survey released on Monday. As many as 100 cities, including 30 in India, may turn into parched lands leading to the biggest rise in “water risks” in the next 30 years, the data showed.
Starting from taps running dry to excessive flooding, Indian cities could face dramatically increased water risks “unless urgent action is taken to mitigate and adapt to climate change”, the WWF survey stated.
These 100 cities, the WWF survey explained, that hold national and global importance in terms of the economies are home to 350 million people.
Delhi, Jaipur, Indore, Amritsar, Pune, Srinagar, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kozhikode and Visakhapatnam were among the high-risk regions mentioned in the list.
The survey analysed cities based on a risk score out of five in 2030 and 2050. According to the analysis, anything above a three is at ‘high risk’, while anything above four is a ‘very high risk’.
All 30 Indian cities in the list received a score of three or more in both, 2030 and 2050. Moreover, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Ahmedabad topped among the Indian cities with an overall score of 4.9, 4.8, 4.7 and 4.6, respectively.
Over the past several years, cities like Chennai have faced a dire crisis of water supply.
“The future of India’s environment lies in its cities. As India rapidly urbanizes, cities will be at the forefront both for India’s growth and for sustainability. For cities to break away from the current vicious loop of flooding and water scarcity, nature-based solutions like restoration of urban watersheds and wetlands could offer solutions,” said Dr Sejal Worah, programme director, WWF India.
This is our chance to re-evolve and re-imagine what the future of the cities could be,” Dr Worah added.
On the other hand, almost 50 per cent of the 100 cities mentioned on the list are in China.
The study noted that while 350 million people reside in these 100 cities today, the “populations in areas of high-water risk could rise from 17 per cent in 2020 to 51 per cent by 2050”.
The survey stressed upon the need for multi-stakeholder engagements and ownership involving local communities to create and conserve a sustainable water infrastructure and rejuvenate India’s urban freshwater systems.
Nature-based solutions like restoring degraded watersheds, reconnecting rivers to their floodplains, and restoring or creating new urban wetlands are critical in order to avert the risk of water shortage.