• Agriculture
    • Excessive use of groundwater for agriculture has also caused a strain in the resource. Eg:- ineffective techniques used for irrigation aligned with mismanagement
    • Between 85 and 90 per cent of all water consumed in India is used by the agricultural sector
    • Subsidized energy and water pumps because farmers form a large portion of voting population. Using subsidized electricity, farmers pump groundwater at will, drawing up more annually than China and America combined.
    • Maharashtra is a good example of this as its sugar belt takes up only four per cent of farmland but consumes overs 70 per cent of the state’s irrigation water.
  • Pollution
    • increased amount of solid wastes in water systems such as lakes, canals and rivers also heavily pollute the water
    • Up to 80 per cent of all surface water in India is polluted.
    • Poor sewage treatment facilities, little public sanitation, poverty, industrial runoff and a lack of government regulation.
  • demand for freshwater is increasing with the growing population
  • Lack of strict state regulation on ground water development has caused a strain on the amount of freshwater available.
  • Indifference from bureaucratic powers and constant neglect has caused the problem to intensify
  • Deforestation, land conversion and degradation, as well as urban encroachment due to illegal construction, pose major threats to the water bearing capacity

Impacts and remedies


  • Falling water levels will adversely affect the agricultural industry, which is almost entirely cereal based and therefore extremely water intensive.
  • A struggling agricultural industry means the threat of unemployment for approximately 50 per cent of India’s workforce, as well as implications for food security and human security
  • Incidents of fever, infection, dehydration, vomiting and kidney ailments


  • National River Linking Project
    • The concept of linking rivers is not uncommon, China introduced a similar project over a decade ago
    • Interlinking of rivers will help water scarce areas to have water throughout the year.
  • Implementing Israel’s water management systems and technologies
  • Long term investment in educational programs, social awareness campaigns, improved infrastructure and facilities, and water diplomacy
  • Rainwater harvesting can provide the country with reliable water supplies throughout the year.
  • Building check dams on riverbeds will improve groundwater levels.
  • Sustainable agricultural practices: Farmers should be trained and encouraged to switch to drip irrigation.
  • The World Bank’s Water Scarce Cities Initiative seeks to promote an integrated approach. It aims at managing water resources and service delivery in water-scarce cities as the basis for building climate change resilience.
  • Indigenous water harvesting systems need to be revived and protected at the local level.
  • The implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has a significant role in the sustainable availability of clean, adequate and safe water. Eg:- Inner Mangolia (kubuqi) model of combating desertification can be implemented

Related information and data

  • 18% of the world’s population which resides in India only has access to 4% of usable water sources.
  • India is suffering from ‘the worst water crisis’ in its history with about 60 crore people facing high to extreme water stress and about two lakh people dying every year due to inadequate access to safe water, NITI Aayog said
  • Cape Town in South Africa was facing the prospect of all its taps running dry by June-July this year. Bengaluru is ranked second in the list of 11 global cities which might face the threat of running out of drinking water.
  • According to a forecast by the Asian Development Bank, India will have a water deficit of 50% by 2030.

Institutions and modalities in its working

  • International Conference on Sustainable Water Management under the aegis of National Hydrology Project, Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is being organised by Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) in Mohali. It aims to foster the participation of and dialogue between various stakeholders, including governments, the scientific and academic communities, so as to promote sustainable policies for water management
  • Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) by the NITI Aayograises three main issues related to data: limited coverage, unreliable data and limited coordination and sharing.
  • UNESCO’s World Water Development Report states that India is the largest extractor of groundwater in the world
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (CSIR-IITR) has developed a Drinking Water Disinfection System with trade name OneerTM. It is useful for continuous treatment of water and eliminates all disease causing pathogens such as virus, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and cyst.

E. Schemes

  • National Water Mission: Government of India has established National Water Mission as one of the eight National Missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). The goals are:-
    • Comprehensive water data base in public domain and assessment of the impact of climate change on water resource,
    • Promotion of citizen and state actions for water conservation, augmentation and preservation,
    • Focused attention to vulnerable areas including over-exploited areas,
    • Increasing water use efficiency by 20%, and
    • Promotion of basin level integrated water resources management.
  • Atal Bhujal Yojana: The objective of scheme is to recharge ground water and create sufficient water storage for agricultural purposes. It also focus on revival of surface water bodies so that ground water level can be increased, especially in the rural areas. It will give emphasis to recharging ground water sources and ensure efficient use of water by involving people at local level.
  • Union Ministry of Water Resources has instituted National Water Awards with objective to encourage all stakeholders to manage their water resources efficiently and create water consciousness in the country.
  • Jal Kranti Abhiyan, which aims at turning one water scarce village in each district of the country into water surplus village water through a holistic and integrated approach by adopting conservation and management techniques
  • Jal Swavalamban Abhiyan (JSA): It is a programme of Rajasthan Government. It has turned out to be a success in Pratapgarh district. In the district the groundwater table has increased, green agricultural fields have expanded and no tankers with drinking water had to be sent to as many as 94 villages this year is

National Water Commission

  • In one of the most significant reforms in the water sector in a long time, the government is in the process of ordering a complete restructuring of the organizations responsible for regulating the use of water resources, with the objective of bringing in greater efficiency, better planning and increased emphasis on conservation of water.
    • Central Water Commission (CWC): Since 1945 the CWC has been tasked with managing surface water and its associated structures such as dams and barrages, oversees irrigation projects, flood management and drinking water supply.
    • Central Ground Water Board (CGWB): on the other hand, is largely concerned with the quality of groundwater.
  • A committee under Mihir Shah, a former member of the then Planning Commission of India, set up by the Ministry of Water Resources had recommended that a National Water Commission (NWC) be set up, which will subsume the Central Water Commission the Central Ground Water Board. The key functions of the NWC will include:
    • incentivise state governments to implement irrigation projects in reform mode,
    • lead the national aquifer mapping and ground water management program,
    • develop a location-specific program for rejuvenation of rivers, etc.

Share This