More than 25 percent of rural India faces drinking water scarcity, says government


More than a quarter of rural India is facing drinking water scarcity, the government said in a statement, highlighting steps it was taking to address the situation after two straight years of drought in large parts of the country.

Searing heat in recent weeks and falling water tables across the country after failure of two monsoons, blamed on the El Nino phenomenon, has prompted the government to take urgent steps to address the scarcity and even using trains to send water into stricken areas.

“There are 1.71 million rural habitations in the country. More than 25 percent of these habitations (441,390) are facing drinking water scarcity,” the statement said, adding that the government has repaired and restored tens of thousands of hand pumps and added pipes to boreholes to access deeper groundwater resources.

It said the central government was working closely with the states to monitor the situation, as India awaits rains that this year is predicted to be plentiful.

The WMO South Asia Climate Outlook Forum consensus outlook suggests that during the 2016 southwest monsoon season (June – September), above-normal rainfall is likely over much of South Asia.

Above-normal rainfall is likely over broad areas of central and western parts of South Asia. Below-normal rainfall is most likely over eastern parts of the region and the southeastern part of the peninsula. Normal rainfall is likely over the remaining areas.

Water storage level in the week ended 21 April was 22 percent of total capacity of India’s reservoirs. At the same time last year, reservoirs were 65 percent full, according to government data. The average over the last 10 years was 76 percent.

In 2015, as many as 11 states declared a drought after June to September south west monsoon recorded a 14 percent deficit  compared to the long period average.The four month monsoon is critical as over half of India’s agriculture is rain-fed.




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