Palaces For The People
Thursday, October 09, 2003

The world’s population in 2003 is estimated at 6.45 billion. Nearly 170 million people are being added to it annually and will increase upto 10 billion by the year 2025. The high growth ratio of population is posing a serious threat to the future prospects of human well-being. If the population continues to grow at this rate, it will perhaps be too large to be supported by the limited resources of the earth in a few decades.

Water scarcities are likely to occur sooner in regions where its per capita availability is already very low following the high population growth. The demand gets more and more serious if its per capita demand keeps growing up following changes in its consumption pattern. People dump wastes, untreated sewage and chemical discharges which pollute the sources of water like the rivers, lakes, ponds and the underground reserves. The ever-increasing demand for water has resulted in two billion people craving for this fundamental resources worldwide.

Indian Scenario

India has 2.45 per cent of the world’s land resources and 4 per cent of its fresh water resources. Twelve per cent areas of the country receive an average rainfall of less than 610 million metres (mm) annually. Only 8 per cent areas receive more than 2500 mm of water. Cherrapunji in the eastern part of Meghalaya receives 11,000 mm of rainfall while western Rajasthan receives only 100 mm. The variability of the rainfall from month to month and year to year for the same place is very high. Even low rainfall areas, especially in some parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan, are prone to occasional high intensity storms.

More than 90 per cent of the annual runoff in peninsular rivers and over 80 per cent of the annual runoff in the Himalayan rivers occurs between June and September. Many of the small rivers totally dry up during the summer. The depletion of forests has further aggravated the problem.

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