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Daily-current-affairs / 23 Apr 2024

Navigating the Nexus: India's Journey towards Water Security and Climate Resilience : Daily News Analysis



As the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasts increasingly hotter summers and prolonged heat waves from April to June, the specter of water stress looms large over India. While the country has historically approached acute stresses such as heatwaves and water scarcity as isolated incidents warranting immediate disaster relief, a paradigm shift is urgently needed. Rather than reacting to crises as they occur, there is a pressing need to recognize the chronic nature of the risks posed by climate change and water scarcity. This shift demands a holistic understanding of the interconnectedness between various sectors of the economy and the natural environment.


As we commemorate Earth Day on April 22, it serves as a poignant reminder that the climate is no longer a peripheral concern but integral to economic sustainability. The very foundation of economic production hinges upon how we navigate the complex intersections of land, food, energy, and water. With India supporting 18% of the global population on a mere 2.4% of the Earth's surface and possessing only 4% of global freshwater resources, the stakes are exceptionally high. The imperative to address water stress and climate resilience is not just a national issue but a global imperative.

Understanding the Interconnectedness

Water, often compartmentalized and addressed in isolation, permeates through various facets of the economy, exerting a profound impact on millions of lives. Precipitation serves as the primary source of moisture for soil and vegetation, thereby influencing agricultural productivity and water availability in rivers and aquifers. However, this vital resource is increasingly vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change, necessitating a reevaluation of agricultural practices and water management strategies.

India's agriculture sector, which employs approximately 45% of the population, remains particularly susceptible to climate-induced stresses. The shifting patterns of monsoon rainfall, with a significant increase observed in certain regions, coupled with the rising frequency of extreme weather events, disrupt crop cycles and irrigation patterns. Consequently, enhancing the resilience of the agricultural sector assumes paramount importance in safeguarding livelihoods, fostering economic growth, and ensuring food security.

Furthermore, water plays a pivotal role in facilitating the transition towards clean energy sources. Green hydrogen, heralded as a cornerstone in decarbonizing industries and long-distance transportation, relies on water and renewable energy for production. Additionally, pumped storage hydropower serves as a natural battery, essential for balancing the fluctuating demands of the power grid. However, the sustainability of these endeavors is contingent upon prudent water management practices and climate-resilient infrastructure.

Challenges and Imperatives

Despite the criticality of water to various facets of the economy, India grapples with multifaceted challenges exacerbated by climate change. The escalation in hydrometeorological disasters, with nearly 75% of natural calamities in the past two decades attributed to water-related phenomena, underscores the urgency of proactive measures. Flood-associated events have surged exponentially, necessitating a paradigm shift from reactive disaster management to proactive risk mitigation strategies.

To address these challenges effectively, India must adopt a comprehensive approach that integrates water governance with broader economic policies. However, existing policies often fail to acknowledge the intricate nexus between water, food, and energy systems, perpetuating disjointed strategies. For instance, while initiatives like scaling up green hydrogen production are commendable, the concomitant impact on water availability remains inadequately addressed. Similarly, the proliferation of solar irrigation pumps, while promising for enhancing agricultural productivity, demands careful scrutiny to prevent exacerbating groundwater depletion.

Moreover, ensuring the judicious utilization of water resources necessitates robust mechanisms for water accounting and efficient reuse. While national missions like the National Water Mission and the Atal Mission on Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) 2.0 espouse objectives of enhancing water use efficiency, the absence of comprehensive baseline data impedes effective monitoring and evaluation. A nuanced understanding of water consumption patterns is indispensable for formulating targeted interventions and incentivizing investments in water-saving technologies.

Financial Implications and Pathways Forward

Achieving water security in the face of mounting climate challenges demands substantial financial commitments and innovative financing mechanisms. While India has made commendable strides in climate change mitigation, investments in adaptation measures remain disproportionately low. The discrepancy in per capita spending on mitigation versus adaptation underscores the need for recalibrating investment priorities to align with emerging climate realities.

Leveraging financial instruments such as the Green Credit Programme presents a viable avenue for mobilizing capital towards climate-resilient infrastructure and agricultural practices. By incentivizing investments in wastewater management, desalination plants, and climate-resilient agriculture, these initiatives can catalyze a transformative shift towards a water-secure economy. Moreover, tapping into corporate social responsibility funds offers a promising avenue for augmenting adaptation financing, thereby fostering public-private partnerships and innovation.


In conclusion, the imperative to prepare India for water stress and enhance climate resilience is no longer a matter of choice but an existential necessity. As the nation grapples with the ramifications of a changing climate and escalating water scarcity, a concerted effort is needed to transcend traditional silos and embrace a holistic approach. By recognizing the intricate interplay between water, food, energy, and land, India can chart a course towards a sustainable and climate-resilient future. Through targeted policy interventions, prudent water management practices, and innovative financing mechanisms, India can emerge as a global exemplar in navigating the complex nexus between water security and economic prosperity. As we commemorate Earth Day, let it serve as a clarion call to action, galvanizing collective efforts towards a more resilient and sustainable future for generations to come.

Probable Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

1.      Despite India's rich history of agricultural practices, the sector remains vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. Discuss the challenges posed by shifting monsoon patterns and extreme weather events on agricultural productivity and outline strategies to enhance the resilience of the agricultural sector in the face of mounting climate risks.(10 marks, 150 words)

2.      Financial commitments for climate change adaptation in the water sector remain disproportionately low in India. Analyze the implications of this imbalance between mitigation and adaptation spending, and propose measures to bridge the financing gap and incentivize investments in climate-resilient infrastructure and water management practices.(15 marks, 250 words)

Source – The Hindu