‘Drought to cost Indian economy $100 bn’

  • KumKum Dasgupta
  • Updated: Jun 03, 2016 06:21 IST

NEW DELHI: The ongoing drought in 10 states of India is estimated to impact the economy by at least ` 6,50,000 crore, according to a recent study by the Columbia Water Center-India.

T he various cate gories of industries that have been affected include thermal power plants, iron and steel industry, agro-based industries, food products and beverages, textiles, and pulp and paper.

The report titled India’s Deepening Water Crisis, Water Risks for Indian Industries says that the industrial sector in India is the second highest user of water after agriculture, but a lacks quantitative assessments and data, which can help gauge the actual magnitude of industrial water use and impacts.

In order to adapt to the water scarcity, many sectors are operating below their optimal production capacities, Dhruv M Sawhney, chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry-Triveni Water Institute (CII-TWI), told HT.

The resultant shortage, he added, could pull down the growth in the index of industrial production (IIP) by 40-50 basis points, while the manufacturing sector alone could take a hit of 50-75 basis points.

“This year, there have been instances where thermal power plants in West Bengal, Karnataka and Maharashtra had to shut down due to lack of water. Another impact of drought is on groundwater, which accounts for around 55% of the water used by industries,” said Kamal Vatta, director, and Romit Sen, deputy director, Centers for International Projects Trust, the India office of CWC.

The good news is that some Indian companies are already taking initiatives to tackle the scarcity. The CII-TWI has undertaken about 120 water audits, resulting in potential annual savings of about 85 billion litres of water, which is equivalent to supplying one day of fresh water to India’s rural population.

Their research show that 15-20% water savings are possible by low-cost strategies with payback in four to five months, and 30-40% savings can be achieved by medium-high cost strategies with payback in 12 to 18 months.

In Bundi district of Rajasthan, ITC is assisting the local community to revive water harvesting and conserve soil. This has led to an increase in area under irrigation. These measures translate into better incomes and livelihoods for the community while saving water.

Industries also see merit and higher economic value in reusing waste water for purposes where water quality is not an important criterion such as horticulture, gardening and cleaning.

Sawhney feels water audits should be made compulsory and the industry should connect with municipalities to treat and use municipal sewage.

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