"Water supply is not going to increase, but demand is sky-rocketing and, sooner or later, you will have stress on water. You have to manage the demand side, and that means increasing the water efficiency, more efficient methods of irrigation, and better water management have to be the thrust," a senior official from the Ministry of Water Resources told IANS.
He said that there has been a lot of focus on bringing down carbon emissions and checking carbon footprints, but nothing has been done to check the water footprint.
"We talk about green buildings; why we can't have blue buildings? In fact, we took this concept of developing water standards for the industry to the CII. More and more people talk about carbon-neutral buildings, and we are looking at water-neutral buildings," he said.
"Suppose, in case of thermal power plants - they can use 10,000 litres or they can use 1,000 litres - there is no value of water. So, now we want that there should be a benchmark like the most efficient thermal power station uses, so many litres of water, and then, we judge thermal plants based on that," he said.
CII will come up with benchmarks for water usage for industry.
"In India, about 80-85 percent of water is used for irrigation. The industry uses five or six percent, and drinking water usage is six percent. In the next 10 years, the industry usage of water will go up to 10 percent if we maintain the same growth. So, we need some awareness in industry," he added.
CII's Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre (GBC) in Hyderabad is already in the process of formulating the guidelines.
"As far as I know, India will be the first country to come up with water ratings for industry. There have been people across the world doing different things for the cause of water conservation, but no one has so far come up with anything like this," S Raghupathy, Executive Director, CII, who is heading the project, told IANS.
"There is a huge potential for saving water in Indian industry, and we are aiming to reduce water consumption by 20-25 percent in next three to four years," said Raghupathy, who heads GBC.
While framing water standards, CII is looking at three aspects - reducing consumption of water within industry, water footprint of the products manufactured, and contribution to society (industry should not compete with society for water).
"Initially, we are coming up with standards for industry, but it can be implemented in cities, buildings, housing societies and by civic authorities," he added.
Water ratings will be issued by Triveni Water Institute - a joint venture of CII and the Rajasthan government - in Jaipur.
According to Raghupathy, the ministry may decide to give some incentives to industry on the basis of water ratings to encourage them.