The challenges of Urban Water Security and Growth

This working paper aims to bring to light the varying degrees of water stress in six cities across India that collectively and individually are major contributors to the nation’s economic output, either through production, industrial development or by virtue of human resources. Thus, bringing to focus the potential economic gain each city places at risk from inaction over water resources. Each of the six cities, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Surat, Chennai and Kolkata, under study, in their own way, are important pieces of India’s economy that aims to reach USD 5 trillion by 2024. Each of the cities also face different aspects of water stress, either because of Mumbai, Surat, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata drought, flooding, poor storage and access, contamination of groundwater, and other factors or a combination of issues.

While the problems may be myriad, one thing that is common across these cities, as well as others in the country, is the lack of adequate water. This increases the strain on human capital and ultimately a citizen’s ability to contribute to the country’s growth in a meaningful manner. While further study is required to delve deeper into the various points of correlation between urban water stress and the lack of integrated planning on the one hand and a city’s economic development and growth on the other, the linkages are clear.

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