Despite optimism over India's economic growth, researchers from the International Water Management Institute - Tata Water Policy Program warn that the mismanagement of vital natural resources, such as groundwater, could seriously hinder the countries' pace of development. Over the next twenty years, 25% of India's grain harvest could be under threat due to the over-exploitation of groundwater supplies. Currently, groundwater irrigates more than 35 million hectares, sustaining 60% of the countries' irrigated land.
Nearly 150 researchers and policy makers attending the 3rd Annual IWMI-Tata Partners' Workshop, held from 17 to 19 February 2004 in Anand, Gujurat, India, discussed key water management issues, such as declining water tables, fluorosis, runaway urbanisation and the dynamics of town-hinterland water transactions.
In one study presented at the workshop, researchers found that the Tanker water economy of six cities - Ahmeda-bad, Indore, Bangalore, Chennai, Jaipur and Nagpur - amounts to around Rs 200 crore per year. Transmissions and distribution losses in the municipal water supply systems in the six cities is 30% of net water supply, and municipal systems meet only 51% of the water demand in these cities.
Researchers concluded that reducing such losses to the achievable level of 15% in the six cities would release enough water to meet the entire demand of Indore and Jaipur cities. The study also revealed that the rich pay more in cubic metres for their domestic water compared to poor people, but the poor pay twice as much in bribes and lost time in procuring water.