Not oil, but water

GLOBAL conflagarations of the next century might very well be over water, says a World Bank report presented at the 20th session of the International Seminar on Planetary Emergencies held recently in Erice, Italy. The report warns that overconsumption of water in the developed nations and its growing scarcity in the Third World will lead to military conflicts if politicians don't act soon.

According to the report, at least 40 per cent of the world's population lives in housing that has neither potable water nor plumbing. Experts point to the Jordan river in Middle East, the Nile in Africa and the Ganges whoW waters are shared by India and Bangladesh as areas of potential conflicts between countries relying on the same water source.

Agriculture accounts for 60 per cent of the world's annual water consumption. Burgeoning populations and lack of measures to replenish the used groundwater has compougded the problem. With reports of water consumption doubling every 21 years, the Bank's predictions have acquired : rhuch more menacing aspect.