The Indian minister for water resources, Pawan Kumar Bansal, spoke at the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) congress, held in Iran last week.
Bansal stressed that the increasing population and food grain requirements has added pressure to land and water resources and therefore a focus on efficient water use during production is important.
He explained: “In order to meet the increased food requirements of the global population, it is necessary to economise the use of water for irrigation by adopting improved technologies and improving water use efficiencies.”
India has pledged to improve the efficiency of its surface water irrigation system by 20% within five years, under the Nation Water Mission targets, he added.
Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Unilever and Nestlé are a few examples of internationals that are working to address the issue of water sustainability in India.
Coca-Cola’s foundation, Anandana, works on water resources management through local initiatives. Through its project, Unnati, four dams have been built that conserve enough water to irrigate 1000 acres of land in a drought-stricken area.
Unilever harvests rain water at a quarter of its Indian factories for use during production, and it plans to extend this practice to all sites.
PepsiCo’s environmental sustainability scheme pledges to improve its water use efficiency in India by 20% per unit of production by 2015.
Nestlé has reduced its water consumption per tonne of product by 29% since 1999 at its Nanjangud factory. It also reuses treated waste water to irrigate plantations on the premises.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a subsidiary of the World Bank promoting sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, this year pledged $150m in water management and water treatment projects in India.
The investment will focus on three areas, looking at improving efficiency of water usage in agriculture, industrial water and its reuse and urban water projects, and decentralised distribution for rural areas by financing small water treatment plants.
IFC’s South Asia head for water, Bastiaan Mohrmann, said: “To sustain its robust economic growth, India needs to address its growing water challenges, and the private sector has an important role.”
Jain Irrigation Ltd has been acknowledged as an influential and innovative business by the Financial Times, with its environment section ‘boldness in business’ award. The Indian business manufactures irrigation systems that have been used by small farmers and larger companies throughout India and has proved to be extremely successful.
Bansal said: “Water resource development and management cannot and should not remain a governmental concern. Water-related issues need to be addressed with the full involvement of the local communities.”