Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thirstiness could again grab India...

India, a land of famine until half a century ago, could soon go hungry again for want of water to grow crops.

"Some areas of India are going to run out of water, with very severe economic and social consequences," says the chief author of a UN-backed study of water supplies for Asian agriculture, published this week.

Indian farmers now pump 60 per cent of their water from underground reserves beneath their land because irrigation canals are emptying the country's rivers, says Colin Chartres, head of the International Water Management Institute, a non-profit research centre based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

But water tables are falling fast. "The situation is especially bad in southern India. They will run out of water first, because the hard rocks [there] have much less capacity to store the monsoon rains," says Chartres.

Half of all the water pumped from underground worldwide is in south Asia, he says. To keep bellies full, India will have to double the amount of food it produces for a given amount of water.


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