Water


"It's not that we are waiting for the future in terms of water challenges, we are already there."

  • About 100 million people across India are on the front lines of a nationwide water crisis. -2018 Report by govt think tank NITI Ayog
  • Groundwater, which has been steadily depleting for years, makes up 40% of the country's water supply. But other sources are also running dry -- almost two-thirds of India's reservoirs are running below normal water levels.

Central Water Commission said in June

  • 21 Major Indian Cities are expected to run out of Groundwater

Namely-Jalandhar, Amritsar, Patiyala, Mohali, Ludhiana, Yamuna Nagar, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, New Delhi, Agra, Ajmer, Bikaner, Ratlam, Jaipur, Gandhi Nagar, Indore, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Vellore, Chennai

The ambit of the Jal Shakti ministry will encompass issues ranging from international and inter-state water disputes, the byzantine Namami Ganga project and provision of drinking water. BJP's campaign promise of the 'Nal se Jal' scheme is to provide drinking water to every household in the country by 2024. Management and utilization of water resources has tended to be a complicated matter in India as water is a state subject. NITI Ayog is working on a plan to exploit India’s vast coastline and its marine waters by desalinating sea water and supplying it to population centers via a network of pipelines.

  • The world is fast approaching “climate apartheid" where only the wealthy can afford basic resources in the face of fatal droughts, famine and heat waves.

UN Human Rights Report

  • India's population is outgrowing its water supply.

India is set to overtake China as the world's most populous country in less than a decade -- and by 2050 it will have added 416 million urban residents. Years of rapid urbanization with little infrastructure planning means most cities are ill equipped to handle the additional population stress. Demand for water will reach twice the available supply by 2030, placing hundreds of millions of lives in danger.

UN Reports

  • When clean drinking water runs out, people will have no choice but to rely on unsafe water. Disease and illness could run rampant, leading to more deaths and higher infant mortality. In rural areas, young girls might drop out of school in mass numbers. As the ones traditionally tasked with fetching water, they will need to help their families, and walk much longer distances to rare water access points. And as the crisis intensifies further, there could be mass migrations to the already overpopulated and under-resourced cities.

The wealth divide may also deepen further as more people compete for fewer resources, and food and water prices go up.In the face of desperation, civil rights, democracy and the rule of law are also at danger, the UN human rights report added. "Human rights might not survive the coming upheaval," it warned.

The Road Ahead


The Road Ahead is a long one, and we have miles to go.


Water covers approximately 70 per cent of the earth, but only 2 per cent of it is fresh water of which 1.3 per cent is in the form of glaciers and polar ice caps. Many developing countries are struggling with ensuring that this basic resource is safe and accessible. Nowhere is this more obvious than in India. The country has 16 per cent of the world's population and only 4 per cent of the world's water resources at its disposal. Since much of that water is guzzled by India’s farms (nearly 90% of freshwater withdrawal each year is by the agriculture sector), there may also have to be a serious reckoning on what India eats and how it is grown. Agriculture is going to be the key part of the package to set right the mess we are in.

Looking at the current situation, there is an indispensable need for a paradigm shift. We require a transition from this 'supply-and-supply-more water' provision to measures which lead towards improving water use efficiency, reducing leakages, recharging/restoring local water bodies as well as applying for higher tariffs and ownership by various stakeholders.


A LOT OF HUMAN INGENUITY, WILLPOWER AND INVESTMENT WOULD BE REQUIRED TO SECURE THE FUTURE OF WATER IN INDIA, WHICH CURRENTLY LOOKS BLEAK AND TURBULENT.


Government's Role

The Jal Shakti (water power) ministry has been formed after the merger of the ministries of water resources, drinking water and sanitation.

The ambit of the Jal Shakti ministry will encompass issues ranging from international and inter-state water disputes, the byzantine Namami Ganga project and provision of drinking water. BJP's campaign promise of the 'Nal se Jal' scheme is to provide drinking water to every household in the country by 2024. Management and utilization of water resources has tended to be a complicated matter in India as water is a state subject. NITI Ayog is working on a plan to exploit India’s vast coastline and its marine waters by desalinating sea water and supplying it to population centers via a network of pipelines.

Areas Of Intervention

Water Conservation And Rainwater Harvesting

Presently, four different Ministries (Water Resources, Rural Development, Environment & Forests and Urban Development) have their own schemes or programs for conservation and rejuvenation of water bodies. In the absence of a cohesive policy measure, such schemes individually fail to have a desired effect.

Repair, Renovation And Restoration Of Water Bodies

With government’s green energy targets, the sector has become quite attractive for both domestic as well as foreign investors. It is expected to attract investments of up to US $80 billion in the next four years.

Reuse And Recharge Structures

Another aspect is the treatment and reuse of wastewater. About 80 per cent of the water that reaches households, leaves as waste and pollutes our water bodies and environment. There is a huge potential in reusing and recycling this treated wastewater at least for non-potable purposes, which is cost effective.

Watershed Development

A watershed provides a natural geo-hydrological unit for planning any developmental initiative.

  • To mitigate the adverse effects of drought on crops and livestock.
  • To control desertification.
  • To encourage restoration of ecological balance
  • To promote economic development of village community.