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While the IMD’s forecast of a normal south-west monsoon has brought cheer to farmers and the government, there are long-term water sustainability issues that need to be addressed. Last week, the World Resources Institute raised concerns about shrinking water reservoirs.

India is the world’s largest consumer of groundwater resources. Rapid increase in population, urbanization and industrialization has put stress on the country’s limited replenishable water resources—more than half the country faces high water stress. Pollution of rivers and major aquifers only compounds the problem. The effects are already visible in the recent Bombay high court order banning cricket venues from using water from the Pavana dam. In 2016, Section 144 had to be imposed in districts of Maharashtra reeling under a water crisis.

The government needs to take a long-term view of this problem and incentivise conservation. It should consider pricing water—either directly, or through a proxy—and meet the equity concerns through other means.

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