Conserve water; reduce its wastage through innovative means: Experts

New Delhi, Mar.24 (ANI): Tackling the water scarcity challenge through innovative and sustainable means remains a global imperative, experts concurred at a workshop on "Meeting the water challenge" held here at The Growth Net 2014 over the weekend.

According to a UN estimate, nearly 1.1 billion people live in poverty worldwide without access to safe drinking water.

The alarming depleting of water resources remains a key worry area for most nations at present. Growing water scarcity has negatively affected economic growth patterns, agricultural productivity, sanitation, healthcare and industrial development. Clearly, for the emerging economies, enhancing access to water and improving supply are crucial elements of development and poverty alleviation.

During the workshop-themed "Meeting the water challenge"-experts underscored the need to bring about structural and operational changes in the policy and governance structures. Some of the key recommendations from the workshop were promoting technology and innovations to improve efficiency; incentives for optimal water utilization by industries and individuals, curbing unregulated water consumption and facilitating behavioural and attitudinal shift in human habits.

Participating in the workshop, Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF India, said: "We treat water as merely something that is available for drinking and is available for producing products. However, water is not just that, it is much more. Through various means, polluted water, especially the one that carries heavy metals, is getting into our food chain, that is, vegetables and grains. Especially, in the footprint area of Delhi and its NCR region, it is coming back to our homes and affecting our power to think and to act. These toxins, over a period of time, affects intelligence and leads to fall in production and hence the GDP."

Singh also stressed on the fact that human footprints of agriculture could be seen increasingly on wildlife areas which was taking a toll on tiger conservation and also on riverine dolphins which are facing a threat to their existence.

In the same breath, Dr. Glyn Davis, Executive Director, Global Programmes, WWF-UK, argued, "We have to understand that there are a lot of challenges we face when it comes to water and they are not only technical. Looking at the global state of fresh water, water crisis is the fourth biggest challenge that the corporate sector fears worldwide, thereby affecting growth."

Joining the forum from the India Inc., Nadir Godrej, Managing Director, Godrej Industries and Chairman of GodrejAgravet, India, said, "I suggest that India as a powerful nation should put more focus on investing in devising new water recycling technologies than just giving subsidies."

Naina Lal Kidwai, Country Head India and Director HSBC Asia-Pacific, HSBC, opined "Even though the MNCs follow global standards, the change will not happen till we encourage Indian firms, big or small to make sure that they do a water audit. We must implement a self-sufficient water audit system and for this, we need to grow skill sets and capabilities."

The experts underscored the need to bring about structural and operational changes in the policy and governance structures.

Some of the key recommendations from the workshop were promoting technology and innovations to improve efficiency; incentives for optimal water utilization by industries and individuals, curbing unregulated water consumption and facilitating behavioural and attitudinal shift in human habits. By Subhajit Chandra (ANI)