World Water Day 2018: India can comfortably achieve 7.5% GDP growth in next couple of years, the World Bank has predicted, but with a caution that unless “water-scarce” India starts managing its water, it cannot achieve the next level of economic growth, that is 8%. India’s economic growth in the last three decades has been steady, steady, stable, diversified and resilient, but the real challenge for India to go up the growth ladder is managing the water, without it, 8% plus growth will be difficult to achieve, Junaid Ahmad World Bank India director said recently.
The World Bank in its half-yearly development report said that on the back of reforms undertaken in the 1990s and buoyant global economy between 2004 and 2008, India’s GDP grew at an average annual rate of 8.8% during these five years, and with an exception of these five years, high growth did not sustain for more than a year. One of the major factors that are going to make India achieve the dream of 8% plus growth is how India manages its scarce natural resources — building resilience against climate change and protecting water resources.
“The fundamental constraint to India’s long-run growth is the scarcity of natural resources,” the World Bank in its report. The Economic Survey Report 2018, which was presented before the Budget day, also advocated managing water resources to protect India’s farmers and the agricultural sector. It said that the policy implications are stark and India needs to spread irrigation – and do so against the backdrop of rising water scarcity and depleting groundwater resources.
It added that fully irrigating Indian agriculture, that too against the backdrop of water scarcity and limited efficiency in existing irrigation schemes will be a “defining challenge” for the future. And it is not just groundwater depletion, but pollution of rivers and other water bodies is also throwing a major challenge for the country, pushing India towards a major water crisis.