Executive Summary

The issue of water security, particularly providing water adequate in quantity and of satisfactory quality, to every living being, is already a key challenge, and the situation will become increasingly grimmer in the years to come. The World Resources Institute (WRI) in 2013 declared India among the world’s 50 most water-stressed countries (the baseline water stress rank was 41). The availability of water would be greatly affected due to declining water table and increasing run off affecting the supply side, on the one hand, and increasing population, industrialization and urbanization, on the other hand. The water demand has surged dramatically due to improvements in living standard, more nuclear families, and changing lifestyle. The demand from other living beings, i.e., animals and plants, is also increasing for obvious reasons. To compound the problem, climate change and its potential adverse impact across all sectors may put increasingly greater pressure in the coming decades on the availability and distribution of the country’s water resources.

Looking into the challenges that the country would face, the Technology Vision 2035 exercise of TIFAC reviewed the water availability, demand projections, interventions that are required to achieve water security, and the underlying technologies to achieve success. A consultative process was adopted under the supervision of an Advisory group comprising several experts. It is hoped that the ideas and research thrust areas identified through various brainstorming meetings and consultative process, will encourage the industry to come forward and partner with our public institutions in converting nascent solutions into adoptable technologies.

This Vision document-cum-technology roadmap is divided into three sections. The first section captures the past, present, and future scenarios in water resources and provides estimates of the water demand across various segments. The second section introduces the core vision, namely, “Assured and Fit for Purpose water supply for all by 2035”. The vision statement is further elaborated in the Indian context as: “Developing and rolling out innovative sustainable water solutions that help achieve “more from less for more” in the spirit of Gandhian engineeringfreedom from water-borne diseases, cleaner water bodies, water security for all, and managing and mitigating adverse consequences of climatic uncertainties and natural calamities”. The key challenges emanating as a consequence, and essential for a holistic solution, may be summarized as follows.

  1. Augmenting water availability by all affordable and viable means
  2. Addressing the challenges of water quality
  3. Developing and implementing en masse technologies that help achieve the mission of “more crop per drop”
  4. Managing wastewater
  5. Desalination, especially in the context of India’s long coastline
  6. Mitigating uncertainties
  7. Large scale monitoring and surveillance of all kinds of water bodies using sensor networks and remote sensing technologies
  8. Massive thrust on human resources development, both for skill development and advanced knowledge creation
  9. Imbibing the concepts of water footprint and responsible care among all citizens

These challenges are discussed more comprehensively in the second section. To realize the vision and address the challenges in the years to come, the third section of the document focuses on the technology road map. In particular, short, medium and long term thrust areas for R&D arising from technology gaps are identified, ranging from remote sensing of water reserves to smart sensing for quality, energy efficient desalination to precision agriculture, effluent management to flood management, and real time decision making be it for climate change aberrations, threats to water bodies or natural calamities. A wide swath of emerging technologies is also presented, which need to be proven on the ground, scaled up, comparatively assessed for robustness and cost-effectiveness, and improved upon further. Global collaboration, coupled with technology acquisition and indigenization, will be a key component of the overall strategy.

Through this document, an attempt is being made to put these ideas in public consciousness, particularly of planners and decision makers, so that the future research and development agenda for water sector is most fruitfully designed and pursued.


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