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Availability of water to drop drastically

A study shows that water availability per person in India will drop by almost 38 per cent by 2050.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2007 22:50 IST

The availability of water per person in India will drop by almost 38 per cent by 2050, a report on climate change said on Tuesday.

According to the fourth assessment report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), gross per capita water availability in the country will decline from 1,820 cubic meters per year in 2001 to 1,140 in 2050.

"The water availability in the county would reduce by almost 38 per cent. Less rainfall, melting of glaciers due to climate change, and reduced groundwater recharging potential would help the deteriorating situation," said IPCC chairman R.K. Pachauri.

"The projected decrease in the winter precipitation over Indian subcontinent would reduce the total seasonal precipitation during December, January and February implying lesser storage and greater water stress.

"Intense rain occurring over fewer days, which implies increased frequency of floods during the monsoon will also result in loss of the rainwater. The direct runoff of water would reduce the groundwater recharging potential," Pachauri told reporters here.

The report, "Climate Change 2007: Impact, Adaptation and Vulnerability" was unveiled in Brussels April 6. The third report was released in February and blamed human interference as the primary reason for global warming.

Pachauri said though people in the subcontinent are a resilient lot, yet the Indian government is hardly prepared to face such challenges.

"In a scale of one to 10, I would give India 0.5 points on the preparedness. No doubt people and community are resilient but they need guidance and proper infrastructure to fight the odds," he added.

The report, a joint effort by over 100 countries, also said that glacier melting would affect the water flow in Ganga, Brahmaputra, Godavari and all other major rivers of the country.

It said global warming would substantially reduce cereal production potential in Asia, creating food insecurity.

"Crop simulation modelling studies based on future climate change scenarios indicate that substantial losses are likely in rain fed wheat in south and southeast Asia.

"For example, 0.5 degree Celsius rise in winter temperature would reduce wheat yield by 0.45 tonnes per hectares in India," Pachauri said adding that the average yield of wheat per hectares in India is 2.6 tonnes.

The report also revealed that in future climate change would impact forest expansions, migrations and would create an exacerbated threat to bio-diversity with fish expected to face a major threat.