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Water Scarcity in India and Remedial Steps Taken

The average annual water availability of any region or country is largely dependent upon hydro-meteorological and geological factors. However, water availability per person is dependent on population of the country and for India, per capita water availability in the country is reducing due to increase in population. Also due to high temporal and spatial variation of precipitation, the water availability in many regions of the country is much below the national average and this may result in water stress / scarce conditions.

The study “Reassessment of Water Availability in India using Space Inputs” has been carried out by Central Water Commission (CWC) in 2019. As per the study, the average annual water resources of the 20 basins of the country has been assessed as 1999.20 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM). The study further reveals that 8 basins (Brahmaputra, Godavari, Brahamani & Baitarni, Mahanadi, Narmada, Tapi, West Flowing Rivers from Tadri to Kanyakumari and Minor River Draining into Myanmar & Bangladesh) will have per-capita utilizable water more than the projected per capita water use in the year 2050. However, 14 basins (Indus, Ganga, Barak & others, Krishna, Cauvery, Subernarekha, Pennar, Mahi, Sabarmati, West Flowing Rivers from Tapi to Tadri, East Flowing Rivers between Mahanadi & Pennar, East Flowing Rivers between Pennar & Kanyakumari, West Flowing Rivers of Kutch and Saurastra including Luni and Area of Inland drainage in Rajasthan) will have per capita utilizable water less than the per capita water use. Further, it may be mentioned that water resource data is maintained basin-wise and not state or district wise.

Water being a State subject, steps for augmentation, conservation and efficient management of water resources are primarily undertaken by the respective State Governments. In order to supplement the efforts of the State Governments, Central Government provides technical and financial assistance to them through various schemes and programmes.

Government of India has launched Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) on 25th June, 2015 in select 500 cities and towns across the country. One of the key objectives of the Mission is to ensure that every household has access to a tap connection with assured supply of water. The water supply component includes new, augmentation and rehabilitation of water supply system, rejuvenation of water bodies for drinking water supply and special water supply arrangement for difficult areas, hills and coastal cities, including those having water quality problem.

The Government of India, in partnership with States, is implementing Jal Jeevan Mission-Har Ghar Jal, which aims at providing potable water in adequate quantity of prescribed quality on regular and long-term basis to every rural household including tribal areas of the country through tap water connection by 2024.

Steps taken by the Central Government to control water depletion and promote rain water harvesting / conservation are as under:

  1. Government of India launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) in 2019, a time bound campaign with a mission mode approach intended to improve water availability including ground water conditions in the water stressed blocks of 256 districts in India. In this regard, teams of officers from Central Government along-with technical officers from Ministry of Jal Shakti were deputed to visit water stressed districts and to work in close collaboration with district level officials to undertake suitable interventions.  
  2. ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan – Catch the Rain’ campaign has been launched by the government on 22 March 2021.
  3. National Water Policy (2012) has been formulated by Department of Water Resources, RD & GR, inter-alia advocates rainwater harvesting and conservation of water and highlights the need for augmenting the availability of water through direct use of rainfall. It also inter-alia, advocates conservation of river, river bodies and infrastructure should be undertaken in a scientifically planned manner through community participation. Further, encroachment and diversion of water bodies and drainage channels must not be allowed and wherever, it has taken place, it should be restored to the extent feasible and maintained properly.
  4. In compliance to the decision taken by the Committee of Secretaries, an ‘Inter Ministerial Committee’ under the Chairmanship of Secretary (WR, RD & GR) has been constituted to take forward the subject of ‘Push on Water Conservation Related Activities for Optimum Utilization of Monsoon Rainfall’.
  5. Ministry has circulated a Model Bill to all the States/UTs to enable them to enact suitable ground water legislation for regulation of its development, which also includes provision of rain water harvesting. So far, 19 States/UTs have adopted and implemented the ground water legislation.
  6. Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has been constituted under Section 3 (3) of the “Environment (Protection) Act, 1986” for the purpose of regulation and control of ground water development and management in the Country. CGWA has advised States/UTs to take measures to promote/adopt artificial recharge to ground water / rain water harvesting. CGWA grants No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for ground water abstraction to Industries, Infrastructure units and Mining projects in feasible areas in certain States/UTs where regulation is not being done by the respective State/UTs.
  7. Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Groundwater- 2020 has been prepared by CGWB in consultation with States/UTs which is a macro level plan indicating various structures for the different terrain conditions of the country including estimated cost. The Master Plan envisages construction of about 1.42 crore Rain water harvesting and artificial recharge structures in the Country to harness 185 Billion Cubic Metre (BCM) of monsoon rainfall.
  8. CGWB has taken up Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme during XII Plan, under the scheme of Ground Water Management and Regulation. The Aquifer Mapping is aimed to delineate aquifer disposition and their characterization for preparation of aquifer/ area specific ground water management plans with community participation. The management plans are shared with the respective State governments for taking appropriate measures / implementation.
  9. Best practices of water conservation by various entities including private persons, NGOs, PSUs etc have been compiled and put on the web site of the Ministry for the benefit of general public. An interactive link on best practices has also been created for receiving inputs from public, which, after necessary evaluation/validation are put on the website for the benefit of the public.
  10. Department of Water Resources, RD& GR has instituted National Water awards to incentivize good practices in water conservation and ground water recharge.
  11. Mass awareness programmes (Trainings, Seminars, Workshops, Exhibitions, Trade Fares and Painting Competitions etc.) are conducted from time to time each year under the information, Education & Communication (IEC) Scheme of DoWR, RD & GR in various parts of the Country to promote rain water harvesting and artificial recharge to ground water.
  12. The Ministry of Rural Development in consultation and agreement with the Department of Water Resources, RD & GR and the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare has developed an actionable framework for Natural Resources Management (NRM), titled ‘Mission Water Conservation” to ensure gainful utilization of funds. The Framework strives to ensure synergies in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), erstwhile integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) now PMKSY Watershed Development Component and Command Area Development & Water Management (CADWM), given their common objectives. Types of common works undertaken under these programmes/ schemes are water conservation and management, water harvesting, soil and moisture conservation, groundwater recharge, flood protection, land development, Command Area Development & Watershed Management.
  13. Central Government supports construction of water harvesting and conservation works primarily through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana – Watershed Development Component (PMKSY-WDC).
  14. A joint advisory of Department of Rural development (DoRD), Department of Water Resources, RD & GR (DoWR, RD & GR), Department of Land Resources (DoLR) and Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation (DoDWS) has been issued on 24.04.2020 to all States/UTs to emphasize efforts in the area of water conservation and water management in the country. The activities include augmentation of existing water sources(s), ground water recharge, rainwater harvesting and grey water management and recharge.
  15. Model Building Bye Laws (MBBL) 2016 circulated by Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs include provisions for Rainwater Harvesting and it has been shared with all the States / UTs. So far 32 States / UTs have adopted the provisions of rainwater harvesting of MBBL-2016.
  16. Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY), a Rs.6000 crore scheme with World Bank funding, for sustainable management of ground water with community participation is being taken up in the identified over-exploited and water stressed areas fall in the States of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. This scheme is expected to contribute significantly towards water and food security of the participating States.

Source: PIB, PIB

Also Read: Potable Water Problems in Rural Areas (PIB)

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