Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Farmers and Water Drought

 Our neighbour hood sage predicted two things in 1950:-

1. India and China would be two new super powers in the next century and thereafter India will be the only super power.
2.  Water will be costlier than petrol.

Needless to say everyone laughed - Me too included, when I heard of it in 1980.  India as a super power was unimaginable in 1980.  All that changed with the introduction of the computers to India on a large scale by Shri Rajiv Gandhi.  Though the first computer came to india in the 1950's, the scale at which Shri Rajiv Gandhi pushed computers on the common man revolutionised India to a point, where it is now on the cusp of being a super power. So the prophecy may come true after all!!! 

But our post is not about this prophecy.  It is about the worrying prospect of the second prophecy coming true.

In some ways we have already reached there, with a litre of premium drinking water costing about $7 or Rs 420 in India.   Even the cheapest drinking water costs about Rs 15 for one litre bottle.  There are millions of households utilising water cans of 20 litres selling for about 40-100 rupees each.  Apart from this, there is a huge marketing chain of water purifiers, replacement filters and their maintenance contracts etc.  So water vertical is in itself a huge business driving the water shortage.

In addition, there is the textile industry, leather industry and water intensive crops such as sugar cane etc.

According to one study, 30 billion litres of water is used annually by the leather industry. Considering that an average person requires just 30 litres of water in a day, this is a huge huge requirement of the industry. 

In the textile industry, every kilogram of textile produced uses about 100 litres of water.  India consistently produced 1300 million tonnes of cloth every year in recent times.  You can imagine the water requirement.

Apart from the problem of consuming drinking water, this water gets contaminated with pollutants and chemicals and if improperly disposed would lead to contamination of remaining water also.

In addition there are water intensive crops like sugar cane which bleed an area dry of its water.  A farmer may get about 5 lakhs per acre from the sugar cane but this has to be seen against the millions of litres of ground water it consumes for the same.  Indian exports alone are between 3-5 million tonnes and therefore the water utilised could be again huge.

And we are one of the top exporters of textiles, leather goods and sugar cane!!!!  Does that ring a bell?
#water shortage
#sugar cane
#Rajiv Gandhi

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