Background of our work in India (National and Uttar Pradesh)

About India

The Republic of India is located in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world. By 2030, water demand in India will grow to almost 1.5 trillion m³, driven by domestic demand for rice, wheat, and sugar for a growing population, a large proportion of which is moving toward a middle-class diet. Against this demand, India’s current water supply is approximately 740 billion m³. As a result, most of India’s river basins could face severe deficit by 2030 unless concerted action is taken, with some of the most populous – including the Ganga, the Krishna, and the Indian portion of the Indus – facing the biggest absolute gap. As is, 600 million people in India face high to extreme water stress.

As a result of the recent change in government at the national level, there is a strong focus on developing innovative, cost-effective, and decentralized demand-side-driven solutions for water-use efficiency and effluent treatment in the Ganges river basin. This new focus has led to the Government of India recently developing a Ganga Rejuvenation Plan, deemed a national priority for addressing river pollution. The 2030 WRG is working with the Ministry of Water Resources on public-private partnerships for wastewater treatment in the Ganges river basin based on market principles and multi-stakeholder alignment. The 2030 WRG is also adopting an area-based approach for river rejuvenation in the Hindon sub-basin, a tributary to Yamuna and Ganges, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Water Challenges

The Ganga Basin, which covers more than a quarter of India’s geographical area, is home to 450 million people, with more than 60% dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Due to unprecedented stress on limited water resources brought about by population growth, rapid urbanization, increasing industrialization, changing lifestyle patterns, and climate change, India is already experiencing seasonal and longer-term water shortages in select sub-basins and watersheds. In addition to these factors, land-use changes and catchment degradation are worsening the impacts of droughts and floods, resulting in increased water stress and insecurity for agricultural, industrial, and domestic users. Extremely high levels of Non-Revenue Water (water losses) and lack of water treatment infrastructure plague the urban centers as India’s urban population is expected to undergo a 65% increase by 2050. The enormity of the challenge requires coordinated and collaborative action by key stakeholder groups to develop replicable solutions at scale, grounded in sound analytics and guided by the necessary enabling environment and policy framework.

The River Yamuna, a major tributary of River Ganga, is one of the major sources of water supplies in the northern region of India. Like River Ganga, River Yamuna is under serious threat as it receives unchecked pollution and contamination from towns along its stretch. Mathura and Vrindavan are two such twin towns, visited by millions of pilgrims each year, which adds to the complexity and challenge in creating sustainable solutions.

In the State of Uttar Pradesh, the Hindon River is one of the most negatively affected Ganga sub-basins. The surrounding environment as well as the people depending on Hindon water are severely affected by its reduced water quality and diminishing flows.

Although India’s national policies on water management promote the concept of Integrated Water Resources Management for holistic solutions to water challenges, implementation of such policies is lagging behind. Planned development benchmarks will require twice the available supply to meet the needs of energy, agriculture, and manufacturing by 2050. To ensure water security for all water users, a water sector transformation is required. Apart from improving the water supply through measures such as rainwater harvesting, watershed development, and eliminating inefficiencies and leakages in the system, there is a need for water use efficiency and demand-side management across sectors. A shared resource, water is also a shared responsibility for stakeholders across government, the private sector, and civil society.