Indian capital and 20 other cities 'will run dry' within next two years
India's capital city New Delhi is on course to run out of groundwater within two years as climate change and dramatic population growth hit supplies, a government think tank has said.
The worst water shortage in the country's history is likely to affect the city's population of 22 million as well as nearly 600 million people across India, data collected from 24 of 29 states by the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) showed. It said that by 2020 some 20 Indian cities besides Delhi, including global information technology centres such as Bangalore and nearby Hyderabad, were also likely to run out of groundwater, affecting more than 120 million residents.
It cautioned that, like Cape Town in South Africa, Bangalore faced the grim prospect of "day zero", when its water taps would run permanently dry if drastic measures to avert the looming crisis were not swiftly implemented.
"Critical groundwater resources that account for 40pc of India's water supply are being depleted at unsustainable rates," the NITI analysis said, and called for the immediate implementation of sustainable water resources.
Groundwater levels in Bangalore have plummeted in recent years. In 2012 water could be found at a few hundred feet below the ground, compared with 1,500ft now. Much of the water is contaminated by industrial effluents and sewage that seep into the ground. The report said climate change, a shortage of rainfall, the onset of early and extended summers and rising population made it impossible for municipalities to meet demand.
A taste of what is to come surfaced last month in the former colonial summer capital Shimla, where mountain springs sustaining the Himalayan town ran dry. Thousands of tourists, who had flocked to the hill retreat to escape the heat of the plains, were forced to flee.