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Water resource management in India

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    29th Jun, 2022


  • Water resource management
  • Factors responsible for vulnerability
  • Major challenges
  • Way forward


Bangladesh and India has agreed to boost cooperation in the areas of common rivers and water resource management.


  • India has only 4% of the World's freshwater, but 18% of the world's population. 
  • The main source of freshwater is the monsoon, with annual rainfall of approximately 4000 BCM (1 billion cubic meters), equivalent to 1170 mm of rainfall.
  • Most of the Indian states depend upon monsoon for its water requirements. At the same time, some northern states have excess water, while some states such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan are short of water. 
  • In 1951, India's per capita water availability was 5177 cubic meters, but in 2011 it was reduced to 1545 cubic meters and is expected to decrease further to 1300 cubic meters by 2030.


What is water resource management?

  • Water Resources Management (WRM) is the process of planning, developing, and managing water resources, in terms of both water quantity and quality, across all water uses.
  • It includes the institutions, infrastructure, incentives, and information systems that support and guide water management.

What are major driving factors behind such vulnerability?

  • Resource exploitation: Excessive use of groundwater for irrigation in agriculture also puts pressure on resources. 
  • Consumption through agriculture: India is one of the world's leading agricultural producers, so it is also one of the countries with the highest water consumption of land and crops. The water source of is contaminated with biological pollutants. The amount of solid waste is also increasing in the waters of India. 
  • Lack of traditional conservations methods: The decline in traditional water reclamation areas, and the discharge of sewage and sewage into traditional waters, exacerbates the country's water scarcity situation. 
  • Increasing Population: The demand for water is further increasing due to the increase in demand due to population growth, industrialization and rapid urbanization.

What are the major issues?

  • Freshwater shortage: India's water demand depends primarily on the monsoon. Environmental changes and population growth are of concern, coupled with the general lack of long-term availability of water resources. 
  • Unsafe and poor quality: Despite improved drinking water, many other water sources are contaminated with both biological and chemical pollutants, with more than 21% of national illnesses associated with water. Also, only 33% of the country has access to traditional hygiene. This makes clean drinking water unavailable and jeopardizes the health of Indians. 
  • Groundwater Stress: Many rural communities in India around urban sprawl also have no choice but to drill wells to access groundwater sources. There is no easy answer for India, which needs to develop water sources for food and human consumption, but India's overall water availability is very tense. 
  • Demographic Needs: Children in 100 million households across the country are short of water and every one in two children is malnourished. Environmental justice needs to be restored in India so that families can raise their children with dignity. Providing water to the community is one way to ensure that opportunity. 
  • Corruption and Lack of Planning: India's water crisis is often blamed on lack of government planning, increased privatization of businesses, industrial and human waste, and government corruption.

Improvements in Water resource management

Water availability does not depend solely on ecological conditions. The river was tamed, managed and managed here to serve the economy, people and states. However, management and exploitation (i.e., management patterns of these rivers) have created social and economic inequalities, and sometimes even dramatic ecological consequences. 

  • Corporate social/Environmental responsibility: Due to heightened tensions at various levels, government agencies are new to water management to better integrate stakeholders and users in different countries, regions and regions of the agricultural, industrial and drinking water sectors.
  • Integrated water management: The new approach needs to focus on integrated water management, which is closely related to river basins. Water flows according to the nature of river’s regime and earth’s topography and does not respect administrative boundaries, so water must be managed in an integrated, science-based manner. 
  • Harvesting techniques: Most water is moved or dried instead of being used, so a rainwater harvesting program needs to be devised and implemented. The collected water can be used immediately for agriculture and can be consumed immediately by humans with improved filtration methods to reduce aquatic pathogens. 
  • Eliminate the root causes: Rather than relying on quick fixes based on flawed logic, city and state agencies need to focus on addressing the root of the problem. Depletion of reservoirs in general, especially deterioration of water table. Government regulations are needed to limit the amount of groundwater that households can extract. This water should be weighed and priced. 

Other government measures

  • River basin planning
  • Interlinking of Rivers
  • Watershed management program
    • PM Krishi Sinchai Yojana
    • Neeranchal Watershed Management



The most important crops of India — rice, wheat and sugarcane, are the most water consuming crops. Rice which is a major export crop consumes about 3,500 liters of water for a kilogram of grain produced. Further with constant population increase and depletion in water resources water management will increasingly become more difficult in future. The picture of the same is visible in precipitating crisis of water in southern states. Water management needs to be the central focus of efforts in the agriculture sector and the environment improvement.


Q1) Discuss the major issues causing water crisis in India. Why water resource management need a new outlook?


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