New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said efficient water management is crucial to keep pace with population growth and economic development.
"Available water must be managed judiciously to meet the twin burden of population growth and economic development. Conservation, balanced distribution and reclamation of used water are essential cogs in the wheel of water management," Mukherjee said while inaugurating the India Water Week 2013 with the theme 'Efficient Water Management: Challenges and Opportunities' organised here by the Ministry of Water Resources.
He added that India is home to 17 per cent of the world's population but has only four per cent of its renewable water resource.
He said severe drought in some parts of the country, particularly in Maharashtra, was a matter of grave concern.
"The increasing occurrence of droughts and floods in India has underlined the need to find solutions to improve the management of water resources," said the president.
The president said adverse impact of climate change on the hydrologic cycle was leading to variations in rain cycles.
"This has often resulted in occurrence of floods in some areas and drought in others. Climate change also has the potential to affect ground water by reducing its table and quality," he said.
Mukherjee said the government must contain decreasing ground water levels through improved technology and better management and rain water harvesting should be popularised.
Water supply, especially in urban areas, should be metered to boost conservation and ensure recovery of user charge, he said.
He said the agriculture sector was a big user of water and the total irrigation potential is close to 94 million hectare.
"The strategy of 'reduce, recycle and reuse' must find application in our farmlands. Our irrigation system should encourage judicious use of water. Micro-irrigation techniques like drip and sprinkler, and adoption of cropping pattern suited to natural resource endowments should mark our approach to water-saving in agriculture," he said.
Stressing that citizens should have access to safe drinking water, he said investment in water and sanitation infrastructure can reduce child mortality across countries by an average of 25 deaths per 1,000 child births.
"From 76 per cent in 1990, the proportion of global population with safe drinking water source has increased to 89 per cent in 2010. The number of people benefited by this has increased over this period by two billion, of which our country accounts for more than one-fourth. But there is still a significant portion of humanity which remains denied of access to this basic necessity," he said.
"Many of our rural areas are bereft of basic water infrastructure, requiring women to spend a considerable amount of time and energy in collection of water, thereby depriving them from pursuing income generating activities," he said.