The country that pumps more groundwater than any other has reached a water supply and food safety reckoning that threatens to upend political and economic stability, and long-term public health.

In this special report, building on years of on-the-ground coverage, Circle of Blue reveals how a nation of 1.3 billion people, by failing to protect its water, is courting disease and economic hardship as well as social upheaval.

Hand in hand with the groundwater depletion and contamination, is a food supply “toxic time bomb” of global implications. When irrigation wells go dry, farmers turn to untreated wastewater that is laced with industrial chemicals and human sewage.

As one villager said, “The water moved from providing life to taking lives.”

Risks to Groundwater in India’s Solar Irrigation Pump Expansion

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Cheap solar power, widely available, could worsen India’s already depleted aquifers.

Delhi is running short — maybe even out — of groundwater.

A harrowing report in June warned that Delhi, along with 20 other Indian cities, could reach “zero groundwater levels” by 2020. Read More

Groundwater Plummets in Delhi, City of 29 Million

Experts warn that Delhi could reach “zero groundwater levels” by 2020.

Dirty aquifers and water scarcity are destabilizing the world’s second-largest country and seventh-largest economy.  As its water reserves get dirtier and smaller, India is losing the capacity to safeguard public health, ensure farm productivity, grow the economy, and secure social stability. Read More

Groundwater Scarcity, Pollution Set India on Perilous Course

Drained and contaminated aquifers contribute to India’s “worst water crisis.”

After two consecutive years of weak monsoons, 330 million people in India, a quarter of the country’s population, are affected by a severe drought. More than 60 percent of agricultural land in India is not irrigated, so the failed rains are particularly devastating for farmers. The drought has destroyed crops and dried up wells already stressed by overuse, forcing rural families to move to cities. Read More

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Choke Point: India

Choke Point: Tamil Nadu

Chennai’s Security Tied to Cleaning Up Its Water

Water supply and quality motivate Tamil Nadu’s most dynamic social movements.
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This is Tamil Nadu

A storm-swept southern Indian state displays uncommon civility, camaraderie, and great food
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India’s Toxic Trail of Tears

An unending legacy of poisoning, pollution, and chemical pain.
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Pursuing Riches, Miners Plunder Tamil Nadu’s River Sand

Unrelenting demand for cement drives the illegal and damaging sand mining industry.
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A Torrent of Water and Concrete Imperil Chennai’s IT Boom

Ecological distress imperials Chennai's IT corridor.
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Water Scarcity Causes Cauvery Delta Anguish

Worst drought in 140 years leads to farmer deaths, water riots, policy impasse.
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Chased by Drought, Rising Costs, and Clean Technology, India Pivots on Coal-Fired Power

World’s third-largest coal user joins China and U.S. in shift from black fuel.

Timeline of Features on India

India Features

Risks to Groundwater in India’s Solar Irrigation Pump Expansion

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Cheap solar power, widely available, could worsen India’s already depleted aquifers.
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Reporter Wins Award for His Work on Choke Point: Tamil Nadu

Sibi Arasu honored for his reporting on the environment, including two articles from the Choke Point: Tamil Nadu series.

Groundwater Plummets in Delhi, City of 29 Million

Experts warn that Delhi could reach “zero groundwater levels” by 2020.

Groundwater Scarcity, Pollution Set India on Perilous Course

Drained and contaminated aquifers contribute to India’s “worst water crisis.”

Recovery Begins in Kerala, Where Historic Flooding Killed Hundreds

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More than 1 million Kerala residents were displaced by the worst flooding in a century.

Toxic Water, Toxic Crops: India’s Public Health Time Bomb

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Raw sewage and industrial wastewater contaminated with metals and chemicals irrigate much of the India's food.

Booming Infrastructure Poisons Bangalore’s Lakes, Depletes Groundwater

Bangalore’s largest lake is so contaminated that it routinely…

India’s Severe Drought Causing Havoc

Water scarcity forces millions of people off of farms and into…