State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Water Center Conference: Water Security in India

Panel participants, from left to right:  Abhiram Seth, Andrew Robertson, David Ludden, and Alok Sikka
Panel participants, from left to right: Abhiram Seth, Andrew Robertson, David Ludden, Alok Sikka, and Upmanu Lall

Last night (Wednesday, April 15) the Water Center kicked off its conference on Water Security in India with a lecture and reception at the Asia Society in New York.

Led by a formal talk given by Alok Sikka (see here for more information about Sikka and the other panelists), the evening addressed pressing water issues faced by India in its past, present and future. With 16% of the world’s population, but only 4% of its fresh water resources,  not to mention its difficult-to-predict monsoon seasons, India faces many inherent challenges in making efficient use of its available water. Add to this widespread poverty, and policy institutions which have been in place for only 60 years (since India’s Independence), and it becomes clear that India’s water situation will demand more and more immediate attention if it is to avoid nation-wide water problems.

Alok Sikka, giving his talk "Water Security in India" at the Asia Society in New York.
Alok Sikka, giving his talk "Water Security in India" at the Asia Society in New York.

Since 85% of the country’s water resources go towards agriculture, this was an appropriate focal point of the evening, and the panelists discussed options as to where to begin any future water policy implementations or technology changes. The panelists discussed post-Independence history, water-pricing and subsidy options, seasonal monsoon prediction possibilities, groundwater use, and how these different factors could be studied and changed to positively affect water-use in India.

The conference continues today, and through Saturday, April 18, featuring a distinguished panel of experts from around the world on the key water issues facing India.

Click here to view a web-video of Wednesday’s opening lecture, courtesy of the Asia Society.  And check back here, as well as the Columbia Water Center website, in the days following the conference for more detailed summaries of the events and lectures.

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Michelle Shevin
Michelle Shevin
15 years ago

I thought that Friday’s working group on agricultural subsidies and the formation of a pilot program for water vouchers was extremely interesting. Having both economists and engineers in the room, the feasibility of different approaches was discussed alongside the technical details. Transitioning from a system in which the state provides unlimited water at no charge to farmers to a system that incentivizes conservation while remaining fair and affordable will no doubt be a difficult change, however there were some very interesting and promising ideas discussed. I look forward to seeing some of these ideas enacted.