Management of water resources will decide future elections in states as it is the “most critical” issue facing the country, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said on Tuesday.
Kant said India, which was already a water-stressed country, was rapidly moving towards being a water-scarce country.
“Water is an issue which will decide future elections. Governments will be voted out of power for mismanaging their water wealth,” Kant said at the Water Innovation Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.
Asserting that people need water, Kant said wherever they don’t get it, they would throw out the government of that state.
He said there is a need to link good governance with good politics so that water becomes the top government priority, adding that the state governments not managing water well will lose elections in future.
“There is also a need to name and shame such states through ranking… Award those states which do well on the water management front and shame those which perform miserably.”
Kant said that not only would water determine electoral and political success, it would also determine India’s ability to achieve rapid economic growth.
“It would determine whether we are able to improve quality of life of our people and whether we can do it in a sustainable manner,” he added.
The NITI Aayog CEO said irrigation consumes 84 per cent of India’s total available water with industry and domestic sectors consuming “mere 12 and 4 per cent”, respectively.
“We continue to use two to four times more water to produce one unit of major food crop compared to Brazil, China and the United States. Per drop more crop is, therefore, imperative,” he added.
Kant said that majority of India’s irrigation, rural drinking water and urban drinking water needs were met through ground water.
“This total dependence on ground water has led to a radical decline in the ground water table,” he said, adding that some north Indian states like Punjab, Delhi and Rajasthan were slowly turning into deserts.
However, he said, all was not lost as many states “due to the last couple of years of drought” had moved to some unique initiatives at the field level to better manage their water resources.
NITI Aayog is also pushing them towards that goal through a composite and comparative water management index which ranks states covering all aspects of water management, Kant said.
He said the ranking of states on the basis of water management will come out this year.