THROUGH THE LONG SUMMER month's in India's capital, tens of thousands of people have cut back on daily showers and laundry because of a shortage of water that has led to fighting in some areas in which three people have been killed.

Monsoon rains forecast for this week in Delhi will signal an end to summer, but India faces the worst  long-term water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods could be at risk, a think tank chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said in a report.

''We're in dire straits and we need to change our approach to tackle the crisis, otherwise the situation will become so grim that the shortage will knock down our GDP by six percentage points in over a decade,'' Avinash Mishra, a joint adviser at the Niti Aayog thiank tank, told Reuters.

''India's water consumption is projected to touch 843 billion cubic meters [bcm] by 2025 against the current availability of 695 bcm. By 2050, the country will need, 1,180 bcm of water, and at the same time groundwater is being depleted at unsustainable rates, the report said.

Almost every sector in the economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains  two-thirds of India's 1.3 billion people.

Delhi a sprawling city of 20 million people, is symptomatic of the nationwide water shortage. Summer temperatures, can soar as high as 45 degrees Celsius and areas outside the main government districts suffer badly, when taps run dry and groundwater levels fall.

Both Delhi and Bengaluru, India's software capital, will run out of groundwater by 2020, the Niti Aayog report said. Fights frequently breakout in some Delhi neighbourhoods when government-run water tankers arrive and people, mostly women and children, converge with their cans and buckets.

In one such incident in Wazirpur in northwest Delhi, Lal Bahadur, 60, died after brawl with neighbours over water in March. His 18-year-old-son, Rahul who also suffered serious injuries in the scuffle, died in hospital a month later.

Such fighting is frequent because one water tanker a day is like a drop in the ocean in this bustling suburb of  daily-wage workers , said a police official in investigating Bahadur's death.

The official did not want to be identified in line with the government policy.

''I lost mu husband and my son for something as basic as water,'' said a teary-eyed Sushila Devi, Bahadur's wife. ''The culprits are out on a bail granted by a court and I don't have the means to pursue the case further.''

The honor and serving of the latest Global Operational Research on water continues.


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