Water Crisis Situation in India

The recent Bengaluru water crisis has once again brought attention to the looming water crisis in India. Bengaluru, facing the threat of Day Zero, is just one of many cities grappling with water scarcity issues globally. Let's delve into the critical aspects of India's water crisis.

A Water Crisis occurs when the demand for potable and safe water in a region exceeds the available supply. According to the World Bank, water scarcity is defined as a condition where the annual per-capita availability of water is below 1000 cubic metres. This condition reflects a significant imbalance between water availability and the needs of the population, leading to challenges in meeting essential water requirements.

Water Crisis in India

India, despite supporting 17% of the world's population, possesses only 4% of the world's freshwater resources. This stark contrast highlights the severity of the water crisis in the country.

  1. Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) Report: According to NITI Aayog's CWMI report, India is undergoing its worst water crisis, with nearly 600 million people facing high to extreme water stress.
  2. Per Capita Water Availability: India's annual per capita availability of water is in the water stress category. It is projected to decrease significantly by 1,341 cubic metres by 2025 and 1,140 cubic metres by 2050, posing substantial challenges for water management.

Lack of Access to Safe Drinking Water

The lack of access to safe drinking water is a pressing issue with alarming statistics:

  • Inadequate Access Deaths: About 200,000 people die annually due to inadequate access to safe water.
  • Household Access: 75% of households in India lack access to drinking water.
  • Future Projections: By 2030, 40% of India's population may have no access to drinking water, exacerbating the crisis.

Overexploitation and Pollution of Groundwater

India leads in groundwater usage globally but faces significant challenges:

  • Overutilization: India's groundwater usage exceeds 25% of the global usage, leading to depletion and stress on water resources.
  • Contamination: Nearly 70% of groundwater is contaminated, ranking India poorly in water quality among nations.

Reasons for the Water Crisis

Several factors contribute to India's water crisis:

  1. Rising Water Demand: Rapidly increasing water demand is projected to surpass available supply by 2030.
  2. Agricultural Usage: Faulty cropping patterns and high groundwater usage in agriculture, such as water-intensive paddy cultivation, strain water resources.
  3. Encroachment of Natural Water Bodies: Destruction of lakes and ponds for infrastructure needs and urbanization.  For ex- Encroachment of lakes in Bengaluru.
  4. Climate Change: Erratic monsoons and reduced river flows due to climate change impact water availability.
  5. Pollutants Discharge: Industrial chemicals, sewage, and improper mining activities contaminate groundwater.
  6. Lack of Proactive Policies: Outdated water management policies and legal frameworks contribute to inefficient resource allocation.
  7. Governance Challenges: Fragmented water governance, politicization of disputes, and lack of citizen engagement hinder effective water management.

Impacts of Water Crisis

The water crisis in India has far-reaching impacts:

  1. Economic: Water scarcity can reduce GDP by up to 6% by 2050, impacting food production and industrial sectors.
  2. Ecological: Threats to flora, fauna, and marine biodiversity due to water scarcity and pollution.
  3. Social: Health risks from contaminated water, increased medical expenses, and hardships for vulnerable populations.
  4. Federal and International Relations: Escalation of inter-state disputes, regionalism, and potential conflicts over water resources.

Government Initiatives

Government InitiativeDescription
Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA)Started in 2019 to promote water conservation, recharge, and rainwater harvesting in 740 districts nationwide.
Atal Bhujal YojanaFocuses on recharging groundwater resources and improving their sustainable utilization.
Amrit SarovarsInvolves building 50,000 water bodies across the country, each approximately one acre in size, for conservation purposes.
Nal Se Jal SchemeAims to provide piped drinking water to every rural household by 2024 as part of the Jal Jivan Mission.
Namami Gange programComprehensive initiative for pollution abatement (Nirmal Dhara) and rejuvenation of the Ganga River.
Jal Shakti MinistryFormed by merging Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. to oversee clean drinking water, Namami Gange project, resolving inter-state water disputes, and Ganga cleanup.
National Water PolicyFocuses on water conservation, promotion, protection, and includes measures like rainwater harvesting.

Way Forward

To address the water crisis effectively, the following steps are crucial:

  1. Water Conservation: Promote rainwater harvesting and traditional water conservation practices.
  2. Demand-side Management: Involve local communities and adopt nature-based solutions.
  3. River Basin Management: Adopt a holistic approach and implement evidence-based policies.
  4. Implementing Recommendations: Act on expert committee recommendations for better water governance and management.
  5. Community Engagement and Education: Increase awareness among citizens about water conservation and sustainable usage. Promote community-based initiatives like the Swajal model (Uttarakhand) for effective water resource management.
  6. Policy Reforms: Review and update water management policies to align with current and future water demands. Address governance issues, including fragmented water governance and politicization of inter-state disputes.
  7. International Collaboration: Collaborate with neighboring countries on water-sharing agreements and sustainable water management practices.


World Water Day 2024: Date and Theme

World Water Day is an annual celebration that occurs on March 22nd every year. Its establishment dates back to 1993, and its purpose is to increase awareness about water-related issues and inspire individuals to take action to address global water challenges. 
The 2024 theme for World Water Day is "Leveraging Water for Peace," emphasizing the importance of collaboration in solving water-related issues, which creates positive outcomes and strengthens resilience to shared challenges.

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