India is getting closer to the point at which there will be a water shortage due to the abuse of its water resources and the drop in water supply brought on by climate change. In addition, a number of government measures, particularly those relating to agriculture (minimum support price), also contributed to the overuse of water.



India is getting closer to the point at which there will be a water shortage due to the abuse of its water resources and the drop in water supply brought on by climate change. In addition, a number of government measures, particularly those relating to agriculture (minimum support price), also contributed to the overuse of water. India has a water-stressed economy on account of these factors.

Water availability and demand in India are currently around 1123 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year and 750 billion cubic metres, respectively. However, by 2050, the country's water supply will not be able to meet the 1180 bcm annual demand for water.

Some Stats indicating the status of the water crisis in India are:

  • Around 2 lakh individuals die yearly due to poor access to drinkable water in nearly half of the nation (600 million people).
  • India's 70% water supply is polluted, and 75% of families lack access to clean drinking water.
  • In rural areas, 84% of households lack access to piped water.
  • Groundwater in 54 per cent of the nation is losing volume more quickly than it is being replaced.
  • The majority of India's areas have dropping water tables. Additionally, our groundwater contains harmful substances, including fluoride, arsenic, mercury, and uranium.
  • Major Indian reservoirs now contain 21% less water than they did ten years ago on average.
  • Nearly all of the important perennial rivers still have no flow. For instance, the Cauvery River and its tributaries have not flowed into the ocean in decades because of the upstream dams, which also impact Tamil Nadu residents.
  • India is 122nd out of 122 nations on the water quality index created by NITI Aayog.

Impact of the water crisis:

Economic growth: According to a Niti Aayog analysis, India could lose up to 6% of its GDP by 2030 because water demand is two times more than supply.

Power supply: India's ability to produce electricity is being hampered by water constraints because 40% of its thermal power facilities are situated in regions with severe water shortages.

Agricultural crisis: Inefficient farming methods in irrigated areas combined with the fact that Indian agriculture is mainly dependent on the monsoon (which is unreliable) result in poor cultivation.

Drinking water scarcity: Urban residents in cities and towns all around India are also experiencing a drinking water shortage that has never been witnessed before, making the water crisis not just a problem for farmers.

Conflicts over water: Conflicts exist between Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh over the sharing of the Narmada waters, between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana over the sharing of the Krishna waters, and between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the sharing of the Cauvery waters in India.

Measures are taken to tackle Water Crisis in India

At the Regional level: 

  • Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan is a programme in Rajasthan. One of its goals is to make it easier for rural communities to perform water-related activities like water collection and conservation.
  • Jalyukt-Shivar, an initiative from Maharashtra, aims to eradicate water scarcity in 5000 communities annually.
  • In order to increase the agricultural-based income for small and marginal farmers, the Telangana government has launched a mission called Mission Kakatiya. This mission's goals include accelerating the development of minor irrigation infrastructure, strengthening community-based irrigation management, and adopting an extensive programme for tank restoration. 

At National Level:

Jal Shakti Abhiyan:

  •  The Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, coordinating it, is a cooperative project of several Union Ministries and State Governments (DDWS).
  • The focus area is water-stressed districts (256) and blocks (1592).
  • Significance: The government's goal with this effort is to prioritize and sustainably deliver drinking water to every family. Additionally, it is anticipated to encourage people to save water. The programme will support individuals in their efforts to conserve water, maintain ponds and village tanks, and collect rainfall.

Jal Shakti Mantralaya

  •  The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation have been combined into a single Ministry called "Jal Shakti."
  • A piped drinking water supply will be available to every household in India by 2024, according to the government's ambitious "Nal se Jal" scheme (part of the "Jal Jivan" plan), which the ministry will introduce.
  • In addition, the Ministry of Jal Shakti now oversees the National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD), previously under the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change. The NRCD is in charge of carrying out the centrally sponsored national river conservation plan for all rivers in the nation, except the Ganga and its tributaries (as issues regarding Ganga and its tributaries are taken up by the National Mission for Clean Ganga).

Other solutions to the Water crisis in India:

  • Good water management practices: India's annual rainfall is sufficient thanks to the southwest monsoon. However, most of the nation's areas still lack access to enough water, largely due to ineffective water management techniques.
  • Large-scale rainwater collection should be promoted, especially in urban areas with high levels of surface runoff.
  • Roof-mounted rainwater collecting can also be used to replenish groundwater by creating gravel-filled percolation pits all around the home.
  • Indian towns can take a cue from Cape Town, South Africa, which declared "Day Zero" in 2018 amid a water crisis. Water taps in the city were turned off that day, forcing residents to utilise shared faucets to save water. Additionally, water usage caps per person were established.
  • Interlinking of Rivers: The three main benefits cited in support of the plan are that (1) there will never be a drought, (2) there will not be any more flooding in the major rivers, and (3) an extra 30,000 MW of hydropower will be produced.
  • Coordination in aquifer usage: Coordination between aquifer users is urgently required. For the sharing of aquifers, rules and contracts need to exist. India has only recently begun mapping its groundwater aquifers, a positive development.
  • River basin authority: Since most of India's rivers flow through various states, there should be a River Basin Authority to facilitate information sharing.
  • State-level coordination of groundwater management activities at the local level
  • Management at Community Level: Water management can be decentralized at the village level to benefit the local population.
  • Charging for efficient water consumption (like electricity). For instance, water is available through water ATMs in Marathwada for 25 paisa per litre daily.
  • Another option is to use incentives to encourage water conservation in rural areas of water-stressed areas.

Way forward

India does not have a water shortage, but several of its regions occasionally experience water stress as a result of severe neglect and a lack of supervision of water resource development initiatives. In order to sustain human existence as well as future economic growth and development, it is imperative to balance water demand with available supply. 

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