8th Jun, 2021
- Water security is of paramount importance to ensure reliable access and sustainable availability of clean water. Today India is facing many challenges in the water sector.
- Given the increasing demand for water due to population growth (the current population size of 1.3 billion which is projected to be increased to 1.6 billion by 2050), rising pollution levels and climate change, the water cycle is expected to undergo significant change all across the world.
Important facts on water availability in India
- India consists of 16 percent of the world’s population but only 4 percent of the world’s water resources.
- The total annual water available from precipitation in India is about 4,000 cubic km.
- Surface water and replenishable groundwater contribute to 1,869 cubic km, but only 60 percent of this can be put to beneficial uses.
- According to the 2018 Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) 2.0, 21 major cities including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and others are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020.
- The CWMI measures different dimensions of water management and use across the lifecycle of water report released by the NITI Aayog in association with the Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Ministry of Rural Development.
- It also indicated that, by 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, which will lead to a 6% loss in India’s GDP.
Measures taken to address the water crisis
- Through Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched in 2014, India has made considerable progress, especially in SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation by constructing over 11 crore toilets to become open defecation-free (ODF) in five years.
- The Prime Minister was conferred the “Global Goalkeeper” award by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2019 for this campaign.
- Namami Gange Flagship Programme was launched in June 2014 to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation, and rejuvenation of the National River Ganga.
- The National Ganga Council is chaired by PM and is working towards this goal by a) adopting a river basin approach to promote inter-sectoral co-ordination for comprehensive planning and management, and b) maintaining minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga to ensure water quality.
- A draft National Water Framework Bill, 2016 containing provisions for an overarching national legal framework with principles for protection, conservation, regulation, and management of water as a vital and stressed natural resource was suggested under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah through a committee constituted by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation in 2016.
- The Government is planning to update the 2012 version of the National Water Policy (NWP) and set up a National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency to bring a paradigm shift in water management.
- The creation of the Ministry of Jal Shakti in 2019 by merging the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
- Jal Shakti Abhiyan - a campaign for water conservation and water security was launched in 2019 to make water conservation a Jan Andolan.
- The focus is on 1592 water-stressed blocks in 256 districts of India to ensure five important intervention areas: Water conservation and rainwater harvesting, Renovation of traditional and other water bodies/tanks, Reuse of water and recharging of structures, Watershed development, and Intensive afforestation.
- The Government launched Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) on India’s 73rdIndependence Day to provide Functional Household Tap Connection at the rate of 55 liters per capita per dayto every rural household (Har Ghar Nal Se Jal) by 2024.
- Atal Bhujal Yojana (Atal Jal), a groundwater management scheme was launched to improve groundwater management in seven states of India - Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
- In the Union Budget of 2021-22, Universal Coverage of Water Supply and Swachh Bharat Mission had a special focus.
- On the occasion of the 72nd Republic Day, the govt. launched a nationwide movement named ‘Nisarg Raksha’ on Environmental conservation and Water Rejuvenation. It aims to train 1 million Nisarga Rakshaks - One volunteer for every village. They will carry out various activities towards Environmental conservation and Water Rejuvenation at the local level.
- Government is creating a forum named “Nature Protector forum’’ at the National and state level to monitor this project implementation. The project will be implemented through four divisions: State — District — Taluka — Village.
- The project would use Data Analytics to increase the effectiveness of the project and low-cost methods using local means to work on initiatives on Environmental conservation and Water Rejuvenation.
- Local stories of change like Chipko Andolan to save trees and themes on local culture will be used to strategize new initiatives for conserving water resources.
- ‘Nature Protector App’ has been designed to help any conscious citizen to participate in the nature conservation campaign. This would be the first of its kind of project on Environmental conservation and Water Rejuvenation in India on a national scale.
Water is believed to be a major source of geopolitical conflict in this century. It is therefore critical to manage this natural resource well. The Government of India is working towards ensuring water security and strengthening water sector governance.