Freshwater availability in India, from 2001 and projected to 2050. Between 2001-2011, India has seen a 15 percent reduction in the availability of water per capita, IndiaSpend reported on 2 August 2017. Source: Ministry of Water Resources. Graphic: IndiaSpend

30 December 2017 (IndiaSpend) – A bumper harvest crashing prices, pollution worsening in Delhi and other north Indian cities due to crop stubble burning and power plants, and the lack of infrastructure and manpower in public health centres leading to deaths of children across the country. These were the key points of worry for India in 2017.

Agriculture reported growth of 4.9 percent for 2016-17 against 0.7 percent in 2015-16, according to this report from the office of the economic advisor to the finance minister.

Pulses output increased 56.8 percent from 14.6 million tonnes in 2009-10 to 22.9 million tonnes in 2016-17, the data show.

However, a good harvest was the beginning of farm trouble: Pulses imports reduced prices by 63 percent, IndiaSpend reported on 8 June 2017. India’s foodgrain production rose five times over six decades, according to 2016 government data, the latest available.

The droughts of 2014 and 2015 in rural Maharashtra were mitigated by plentiful rains of 2016 but many parts of the state also endured floods, IndiaSpend reported on 8 June 2017.

The crash crunch caused due to demonetisation was felt in rural markets even a year after the policy was implemented. Farmers said cheques take weeks to encash, leaving them without money when they need it the most, IndiaSpend reported on 4 November 2017.

This resulted in farmer strikes that later led to demands for farm-loan waivers across Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra wrote off loans worth Rs 36,359 crore and Rs 30,000 crore, respectively.

Air pollution and floods claimed many lives in India

The year 2017 saw the air quality of the country plunging to dangerous levels, and high-intensity rainfall spells flooding many cities.

On 7 November, 2017, Munirka in Delhi registered a PM 2.5 concentration of 655.78 microgram per cubic meter (µg/m³), according to an IndiaSpend analysis of hourly averages for 24 hours. […]

PM 2.5 pollution caused more than 500,000 premature deaths in India in 2015, according to a October 2017 report in the Lancet, a medical journal.

The study estimated 1.9 million deaths across 21 Asian countries in 2015; one in every four deaths was in India. […]

India’s water resources to be further stressed

Between 2001-2011, India has seen a 15 percent reduction in the availability of water per capita, IndiaSpend reported on 2 August 2017.

An area with an annual per capita availability of less than 1,700 cubic metres per person is considered to be water-stressed and less than 1,000 cubic meter per person water-scarce.

India’s availability is estimated to be 1,341 cubic metre in 2025, which may further fall to 1,140 cubic metre in 2050, bringing it closer to becoming water-scarce, according to this 2017 assessment by the ministry of water resources.

The drought witnessed this year has intensified the crisis. In April 2017, eight states were declared drought-affected by the centre, The Hindu reported in April 2017. [more]

2017: Hard Year For Farmers; Pollution Worsened; Failing Public Healthcare Killed Children



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