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Large reservoirs: are they the last Oasis for the survival of cities in India?

Mukherjee, Sacchidananda and Shah, Zankhana and Kumar, M. Dinesh (2008): Large reservoirs: are they the last Oasis for the survival of cities in India? Published in: Published in: Proceedings of the IWMI-Tata Water Policy Research Program’s Seventh Annual Partners’ Meet, “Managing Water in the Face of Growing Scarcity, Inequity and Declining Returns: Exploring Fresh Approaches”, ICRISAT Campus, Andhra Pradesh, , Vol. Volume, (April 2008): pp. 908-923.

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Urban water demand is rapidly growing in India due to high growth in urban population and rapid industrialization. Meeting this growing demand is a big challenge for the urban planners in India. Incidentally, urban areas in arid and semi arid regions of India are experiencing rapid growth. As a result, the supplies from local water resources including aquifers are far less than the high and concentrated water demands in most urban areas. Under such situations, the cities have to rely on large reservoirs. The paper argues that urban growth would be jeopardized in absence of water supplies from large reservoirs. The analysis of 302 urban centres shows that as population of cities grow, their reliance on surface water sources also grows. Also, greater the share of surface water in the city water supplies, better the level of water supply. A multiple regression analysis of 190 class I cities and 240 class II towns further supports this finding. In Class I cities, with every unit increase in population, there is a 1.12 unit increase in quantum of water supplies. Whereas in Class II towns, with every increase in population, there is only a 0.40 unit increase in quantum of water supply. This shows greater capacities of large cities to respond to the growing water demands, induced by population growth and urbanization. The future projections of population growth, economic development and future water demands clearly means that the role of large reservoirs in meeting the demand of urban water supply is going to be more critical.

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