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Modi unveils $842m plan to tackle water shortages in India's heartland states

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages,

The country is currently facing a severe long term water crisis and demand is outstripping reply. The shortages are threatening both overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy and farm output.

The investment, which will help increase overall water resource availability and ground water replenishment, will be focussed on the country’s heartland states.  Agriculture is a mainstay in the states of Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.  Nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water.  One of the key causes of the rapidly -depleting water tables is attributed to subsidized electricity which gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water.

Almost every sector of the US$2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, particularly agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.

Prime Minister Modi said:

“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development.”

According to the think-tank National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog , which is chaired by the Prime Minister, 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and around 200,000 die every year due to inadequate access to safe water.

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