India to Spend $2.2 Billion on Water Supply Improvements, Ganges

Jul 10, 2014 8:55 am ET

July 10 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government today pledged 131 billion rupees ($2.2 billion) in spending on water projects to improve supplies and the condition of the Ganges, India’s largest river.

Asia’s third-biggest economy will develop watersheds, build more pumping stations and start to clean the Ganga, blighted by raw sewage along much of its 2,525-kilometer (1,570-mile) route, as India endures a year of “unpredictable” monsoons, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

The government will use 36 billion rupees to improve drinking supplies for about 20,000 villages and small towns affected by arsenic and fluoride contamination, Jaitley told Parliament in the minister’s annual budget speech. About 21.42 billion rupees will be spent on watershed development and 20.37 billion rupees on Ganga upgrades. About 42 billion rupees will go to developing inland waterways in the plan.

In a time when water demand worldwide is projected to climb by 55 percent from 2000 to 2050, India will also invest in more solar-water pumps to boost irrigation, Jaitley said. The second- most populous nation is expecting its lowest monsoon rainfall since 2009 as El Nino emerges. The seasonal showers are the main source of irrigation for the nation’s 263 million farmers because about 55 percent of crop land is rain-dependent.