Day Zero – the point when the wells run dry and a city runs out of water – is looming over Hyderabad. In fact, it may be only 48 days away.
The Telangana state capital is set to be hard hit by a monsoon season which was both delayed and deficient. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) found that rainfall in the state was deficient by 35 percent in June and, at the beginning of July, heavy rain failed to materialise despite forecasts. In Hyderabad, 115.1 millimetres of rain fell between July 1st and July 14th – a deficiency of 29 percent from the norm of 161.7 millimetres. This leaves the city and its twin Secunderabad facing severe drought conditions as early as September.
Current water reserves are anticipated to run out by the end of the summer, with the Times of India reporting that 166 million gallons of water are currently being dispensed by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB). An emergency plan of action will be enacted to enable emergency pumping from major reservoirs should the monsoon deficiencies continue. “Not even 1 ft of water has been added to the existing levels,” HMWSSB Technical Director V. Praveen Kumar has said.
This comes on the back of grim projections by NITI Aayog, which anticipates that cities including Bengaluru, Chennai, and New Delhi (as well as Hyderabad) could run out of groundwater by 2020. Chennai already is facing severe drought, with its four major reservoirs running out of water. This has left the city’s denizens dependent on private water tankers – a crisis also plaguing the city’s hospitals.
Many parts of India have been grappling with water for much of the year. Approximately 42 percent of the total land in India – an area home to 500 million Indians – faces drought. States including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana rank among those affected. As a WaterAid report revealed earlier this year, one billion Indians live without water for at least one part of the year. By household, 75 percent of homes in India lack access to drinking water.
With Hyderabad staring at a water crisis on the level of what is being witnessed in Chennai, acknowledgement of the water woes plaguing India are vital if steps are to be taken in the years to come to counteract water shortages. The effects on everyday life – at a time of rising temperatures and heatwaves – will only worsen if this is not the case.