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India announces projects worth $17.9 mn for Palestine

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Ramallah: India on Monday announced projects worth $17.9 million in Palestine, and also a grant of $5 million, as President Pranab Mukherjee arrived here from Amman on a maiden visit of an Indian head of state to this troubled country.

The projects, announced soon after delegation-level talks between the two sides, cover a $12-million technology park, $4.5 million towards an institute of diplomacy, $1 million for an India-Palestine ICT and Innovation Centre.

“The grant is for budgetary support for Palestine,” Anil Wadhwa, secretary, east, in India’s external affairs ministry, said during a media briefing, adding that this was part of India’s ongoing support towards capacity building in Palestine.

He also said the number of seats for Palestinians under the Indian and Economic Cooperation Program was being doubled to 100, while scholarships to students to study in Indian universities will now to up to 25 from 10 earlier.

President Mukherjee, who had arrived at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv earlier in the day, immediately proceeded for Ramallah, changing his limousine at Bitunia, the checkpoint between Israel and Palestine.

Among his other engagements, he laid a wreath at the mausoleum of late Palestine president Yaseer Arafat, paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, and took part in a ceremony to name a road and a roundabout in the central quarters of this city as Sharia-al-Hind and Maidan-al-Hind.

During the delegation-level deliberations, where the bulk of the articulation of the Indian side was by the president, New Delhi once again reiterated its position over its unwavering support for the Palestine cause, and that it favored a negotiated settlement with Israel.

The Indian interlocutors present at the talks, said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave a detailed presentation on the issues of conflict with Israel, and even circulated a position paper on the subject.

One of the issues he wished to emphasize was how in a matter of 78 years, the Palestinians-held territory had shrunk from what they claimed was at 100 percent historically, to 80 percent in 1937, 44 percent under the UN partition scheme, 22 percent by 1967, and 12 percent now.

President Abbas said his country just wanted the Israelis to agree to the 1967 de-facto lines endorsed by the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1988.

The Indian president, on his part, said they believed in arriving at a negotiated settlement, rather that the road of conflict, based on the Quartet Roadmap, proposed by the US, EU, Russia and the UN, as also various resolutions at the United Nations.

(Arvind Padmanabhan, IANS)

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Report Claims, As Many As 1 Billion Indians Live in Areas of Water Scarcity

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater -- 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater -- 12 per cent of the global total.

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Global groundwater depletion - where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally - increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India's rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period. Pixabay

As many as one billion people in India live in areas of physical water scarcity, of which 600 million are in areas of high to extreme water stress, according to a new report.

Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid.

This number is expected to go up to five billion by 2050, said the report titled “Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water 2019”, released to mark World Water Day on March 22.

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Pure water droplet. Pixabay

Physical water scarcity is getting worse, exacerbated by growing demand on water resources and and by climate and population changes.

By 2040 it is predicted that 33 countries are likely to face extremely high water stress – including 15 in the Middle East, most of Northern Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Spain. Many – including India, China, Southern Africa, USA and Australia – will face high water stress.

water
Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid. Pixabay

Global groundwater depletion – where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally – increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India’s rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period.

Also Read: Beware! Sipping Hot Tea Raises Risk of Esophageal Cancer

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater — 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater — 12 per cent of the global total.

The WaterAid report warned that food and clothing imported by wealthy Western countries are making it harder for many poor and marginalised communities to get a daily clean water supply as high-income countries buy products with considerable “water footprints” – the amount of water used in production — from water-scarce countries. (IANS)