Kerala headed for water scarcity

The study has projected a gap of 1,268 Mm3 (1,268 billion litres) between supply and demand for 2021 on the basis of current level of rainfall, storage and available groundwater.

July 26, 2014 12:43 pm | Updated 12:43 pm IST - THRISSUR

A study on water use and resources conducted by the Centre of Excellence in Environmental Economics (CEEE) of the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) predicts severe water scarcity in the State by 2021.

The study has projected a gap of 1,268 Mm3 (1,268 billion litres) between supply and demand for 2021 on the basis of current level of rainfall, storage and available groundwater. Current signals of climate change, land-use changes and demographic pressures point to a still wider supply-demand gap, warns the study.

According to the study, released on Friday, the projected demand by 2021 is 48,600 Mm3 whereas the available resources can provide only 47,332 Mm3 of water. The demand includes 28,900 Mm3 (59 per cent) water for irrigation, 7,500 Mm3 (15.4 per cent) for domestic and industrial uses, and 12,200 Mm3 (26 per cent) for salinity control and reclamation.

The utilisable water quantity includes the expected 42,700 Mm3 rainfall and a projected groundwater availability of 4,632 Mm3. The groundwater status is alarming with Kerala in the third position among States. Well water levels have fallen by 71.48 per cent in the past decade, says the study.

Based on the relative vulnerability index, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Malappuram, Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kozhikode, Alappuzha and Kannur were categorised as highly vulnerable. Idukki and Wayanad districts were in the relatively safer group and Kottayam, Palakkad, Pathanamthitta and Kasaragod are in the medium vulnerability status. Thrissur district is the most vulnerable to water stress with an index of 199.55 while Ernakulam comes second with an index of 152.58. Malappuram district with an index value of 108.52 is in the third position, but it has considerably improved its position since 2001.

CEEE head P. Indiradevi says the study adopted internationally accepted indices on vulnerability based on the components, exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity.

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