The State of Maharashtra, located in western India and perhaps best known by its capital Mumbai, is a reflection of the water resource challenge facing many parts of the world, yet local conditions here are particularly testing and call for drastic action.
Maharashtra is the third largest state of India in terms of area (about the size of Italy) and second largest in terms of population (112 million people). It is prone to various types of natural disasters such cyclones, earthquakes, floods and droughts — the most frequently recurring phenomenon to severely impact the State since 2012. With a large percentage of families’ dependent especially on rain-fed farming, droughts pose a significant and persistent risk to continued economic and human development. Maintaining the current high rates of economic growth while maintaining social equity and environmental sustainability requires the state not only to balance competing needs but also to significantly improve the efficiency of water use.
Two sectors drive Maharashtra’s economy: agriculture and industry. With the largest economy and the second largest population in India, agriculture provides a livelihood for half of the state’s population, whereas industry provides 13% of the National Industrial Output and 46% of the Gross State Domestic Product.
The state’s agriculture sector is growing at a robust rate of 6% per annum and the government is striving to further increase productivity and enhance farmer income by expanding irrigation, developing value chains, introducing technology and mechanization, and making markets more efficient. With only 20% of the area covered by irrigation, low relative productivity and climate change induced variability in rainfall, the challenge remains substantial and farmer incomes continue to remain low.
The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project launched by the Government of India under the seminal ‘Make in India’ campaign will see the development of a number of substantial industrial zones spanning across Maharashtra. These industrial zones together with the ‘Smart Cities’ initiative to modernize ten mid-size cities within the state will see a substantial increase in demand for water from both the industrial and urban sectors.
People, the environment, and these critical sectors of the economy all compete for the limited available water resources in Maharashtra, one of India’s driest states.
The State of Maharashtra is facing an increasing gap between water availability and demand. According to the World Resources Institute, India’s agricultural sector suffers from “high” water stress, placing an increasing amount of pressure on water demands for food security, economic growth and energy production, all while maintaining a delicate ecosystem. In Maharashtra, tackling the agri-water crisis to ensure the State’s sustainable socio-economic growth, specifically in its agricultural sector, requires a collaborative solution.
Since early 2014, 2030 WRG has been working with the Government of Maharashtra to promote more water efficient growth in the state’s agricultural sector. Under the guidance of a multi-stakeholder partnership (MSP), a preliminary hydro-economic analysis was completed. This study identifies key challenges, maps existing initiatives and serves as a guide for MSPs to formulate strategies towards closing the water gap. Also, 2030 WRG, working with WEF, facilitated PPPs to promote agri-water efficiency, is developing a comprehensive program in the cotton sector, and is working with large multi-national companies to recharge groundwater for urban and industrial water security.
The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) is a public, private, civil society partnership that supports country-level collaboration designed to unite diverse groups with a common interest in the sustainable management of water resources.