Drought concerns grow in India

Across much of northern India, the Guardian reported, a late monsoon and the driest June for 83 years are exacerbating the effects of a widespread drought, pitting neighbour against neighbour in a fight for water. The United Nations has long warned that water shortages will become one of the world's most pressing problems. India's current situation is seen as a foretaste of the future.

While lack of rain has affected northern areas the most, the authorities in Mumbai — which has experienced heavy rainfall and flooding – were forced to cut the water supply by 30% last week. Water levels in the lakes serving the city have run perilously low.

From Gujarat to Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh – India’s “rice bowl” — special prayers have been held for more rain after cumulative monsoon-season figures fell 43% below average. Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said the country was facing a drought-like situation that was a “matter for concern”, with serious problems developing in such states such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

In Bhopal, the 1,000-year-old man-made Upper Lake had shrunk from 38 square kilometres to five square kilometres last week. As the monsoon failed to materialise, the population of 1.8 million was permitted 30 minutes of water supply every three days (down from every other day since last October). In nearby Indore, the ration is half an hour’s supply every seven days.

India, experts say, has too many people in places where there is not enough water. One report estimates that four billion people around the world will be affected by water scarcity by 2050.

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