Women fetch water from an opening made to filter water next to a polluted lake in Thane, India June 13, 2019. Photo: Reuters/Prashant Waydande.
New Delhi: A survey has found that nearly 30 cities in India, including Jaipur, Delhi, Amritsar, Pune, Kolkata, Mumbai and Vishakhapatnam are susceptible to acute water risks, according to a report in The Hindu.
An online tool, co-developed by the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Water Risk Filter assesses water-related risks and enables companies and investors to respond to water-related risks worldwide.
According to its analysis, nearly one-third of the 100 cities in the world which are susceptible to ‘water risk’ – which range from droughts to floods – are in India. Other factors that were used to evaluate a city’s risk included aridity, availability of freshwater, the impact of climate change, the presence of regulatory laws governing water use, and conflict.
The 30 cities in the country received rankings of ‘high risk’ and ‘very high risk’ for both 2030 and 2050.
Jaipur topped the list of Indian cities, followed by Indore and Thane.
Other cities prone to water risk include Beijing, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Mecca and Rio de Janeiro. Almost half of the cities identified are from China. The 100 cities expected to experience the greatest rise in water risk by 2050 are home to at least 350 million people.
For cities to break away from the current vicious loop of flooding and water scarcity, nature-based solutions like restoration of urban watersheds and wetlands could offer solutions. This is our chance to re-evolve and re-imagine what the future of the cities could be,” Sejal Worah, programme director, WWF India, said in a statement.
Rapid urbanisation and lack of basic infrastructure have already made cities in India water-stressed. In June last year, one of India’s most populous cities, Chennai faced an acute water shortage when the cities four major reservoirs dried up after a delay in the onset of monsoons.
The analysis also cited issues like deforestation, soil erosion, overgrazing, air pollution and water pollution that contributed to the country’s environmental problems.
The analysis by WWF also stressed on the importance of India’s Smart Cities initiative and noted that the initiative provided a framework for water management. “Urban watersheds and wetlands are critical for maintaining the water balance of a city, flood cushioning, micro-climate regulation and protecting its biodiversity,” the report said.
The survey also said that multi-stakeholder engagements with local communities are essential to creating and conserving sustainable water infrastructure and rejuvenating urban freshwater systems. Urban planning and wetland conservation, it noted, had to be integrated to preserve freshwater systems in urban areas.
It also proposed that nature-based solutions like restoring degraded watersheds, reconnecting rivers to their floodplains, and creating urban wetlands be implemented whilst improving infrastructure and reducing water consumption.