Citizens' Issues
Water scarcity to become major issue in water-stressed India says CRISIL

Over the past 60 years, the annual per capita water availability in India has fallen 70% to 1544 cubic meter from 5177 cubic meter in 1951 and is expected to further fall to 1,140 cubic meter in 2050

The alarm on the continued availability of sufficient water to all consumers in India, both corporate and domestic, over the years has sounded. The per capita water availability in India, which is currently at 1,544 cubic meters in 2011 vis-à-vis the international benchmark 1,700 cubic meters, is projected to further shrink to 1,140 cubic meters by 2050, said CRISIL in a research report.

India’s population has increased from 361 million in 1951 to 1.21 billion in 2011. The number of cities with population of over 1 million has increased from 12 in 1981 and 23 in 1991 to 35 in 2001. Therefore, the per capita availability of water in the country as a whole has plummeted from 5,177 cubic meter per annum in 1951 to 1,544 cubic meter per annum in 2011, a drastic reduction of 70% in 60 years. With the per capita availability of water falling below 1,700 cubic meters, India has already acquired the unfortunate status of a ‘water-stressed’ nation. The situation is expected to deteriorate further as per capita water availability is expected to decline further to 1,342 and 1,140 cubic meters per annum by 2025 and 2050, respectively, the report said.  

Water is a resource that Indians have been able to take for granted until now. But that is no longer the case. Water, which is an integral part of the production process in many industries, has emerged as an issue that could have serious consequences for direct operations of a company, and its supply chains, brand reputation, and therefore, on growth opportunities and profit.

According to the report, growing scarcity and pollution of water, coupled with challenges arising out of climate change could pose serious risks to industrial and business operations in India. Given the likely impact of these risks on companies' financial performance, SEBI has made it mandatory for top 100 listed companies in terms of market capitalisation to submit Business Responsibility Reports (BRR), as a part of their annual reports. So far, only 39 Indian companies have released sustainability reports in adherence to the global reporting initiative.

Mukesh Agarwal, senior director, CRISIL Research, said, "Most companies continue to have a cavalier approach towards use of water and waste water discharge and consequently, have been forced to face physical, regulatory and reputational damages. This has often led to significant impact on the financial performance, and in select cases, companies have even had to shift or shut down their business operations. Indian companies must therefore manage their water usage and discharge in a responsible and sustainable manner."

Statistics from the report indicates that India has already acquired the status of a water-stressed nation. CRISIL Research conducted a comprehensive assessment of water disclosure practices of 500 publicly held companies in India. The study revealed that in 2010, only 30% of companies reported that they have company-level water policy for prudent management of water usage. Similarly, 22% of companies reported that they have policies to manage wastewater discharge. Only 3.3% of companies disclosed information on total quantity of water used and merely 1.5% reported the source from where water used is drawn. The study pointed out that sectors such as energy, materials and utilities are more proactive in disclosing information on wastewater discharge.

"Every company must adopt a comprehensive strategy to reduce water-related business risks as part of its overall risk management practices. Monitoring of water usage/waste water discharge, through proper accounting and reporting to the stakeholders/general public, must form the core of such a strategy and would be central to sustainable growth," said Sunil Sinha, head and senior economist, CRISIL.

CRISIL said water stewardship demonstrated by few Indian companies like ITC and Tata Motors need to be emulated by others to contain water related business risks. ITC trains and empowers farmers in watershed management. ITC has assisted farming communities in 22 districts across 7 states of India.

Tata Motors' first step was to create a perennial source of water by constructing a 350-metre-long stone dam to contain rainwater that came in through the natural watercourses within the perimeter. Building just one lake was not enough, so Tata Motors built more and today, there are six ponds and lakes, which are fed by rainwater and treated effluence of the factory. These lakes have become an extension of the effluent treatment plants (ETP), with the treated wastewater being retained by two ponds and two lakes, while allowing the excess to overflow from one water body to the next. As a result of this progressive biological oxidation, the quality of the treated effluence is far superior to the quality of the receiving water body into which it flows. The once arid scrubland with cupfuls of quickly evaporating rainwater has now become home to broods of birds and aquatic creatures, the report said.



pinakin mamtora

5 years ago

The future wars may well be fought over water. May I request Team MoneyLife and all ML readers to please suggest names of companies who will stand to gain from the ensuing water shortage in India: water-treatment/conservation/consultancy/infrastucture & all other water-related companies may well be the multibaggers of this decade. May be ML can do a in-depth (well, that's a given with ML!) cover story on this unique futuristic investment theme of this Century. My mouth is already 'watering' at the prospects!



In Reply to pinakin mamtora 5 years ago

Yes, the 3rd World War is likely to be over water.

Commodity trends

According to the Punjab agriculture department, total wheat production in Punjab and...

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FM expects inflation to moderate to 6-7% by March-end

“If this trend continues, perhaps we may have the year-end inflation at around 6%-7%,” finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said while commenting on a sharp fall in food inflation to 8% for the week ended 19th November from 9.01% in the previous week

New Delhi: Encouraged by a steep fall in food inflation to 8%, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today said the overall rate of price rise will moderate to around 6%-7% by March 2012, reports PTI.

“If this trend continues, perhaps we may have the year-end inflation at around 6%-7%,” Mr Mukherjee told reporters here.

Headline inflation, which include prices of food items, besides manufactured products, fuel and non-food primary articles, is currently hovering near the double-digit mark.

Mr Mukherjee made the statement while commenting on a sharp fall in food inflation to 8% for the week ended 19th November from 9.01% in the previous week.

“After the month of August, for the first time it (food inflation) has come down to 8%... non-food inflation is steadily declining. In 29th October, it was 6% and now (its has) declined to 2.14%,” he said.

Inflation in the overall primary articles category stood at 7.74% during the week ended 19th November, as against 9.08% in the previous week.

Inflation in non-food articles was recorded at 2.14% during the week under review, as against 4.05% in the previous week ended 12th November.

The decline in the rate of price rise in food items is likely to provide some relief to the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which have been facing flak from all quarters for persistently high prices.

Headline inflation has been above the 9% mark since December 2010. It stood at 9.73% in October this year.

In its second quarterly review of the monetary policy last month, RBI said it expects inflation to remain elevated till December on account of the demand-supply mismatch before moderating to 7% by March 2012.


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