Water stress/water scarcity in India

What is a water stressed and water scarce condition?

Annual per-capita water availability of less than 1700 cubic meters is considered as water stressed condition, whereas annual per-capita water availability below 1000 cubic meters is considered as a water scarcity condition. Due to high temporal and spatial variation of precipitation, the water availability of many region of our country is much below the national average and can be considered as water stressed / water scarce.

The average annual per capita water availability in the years 2001 and 2011 was assessed as 1816 cubic meters and 1545 cubic meters, respectively, which may reduce further to 1340 and 1140 in the years 2025 and 2050 respectively.

Average annual water potential

The average annual water potential in our country has been assessed as 1869 billion cubic meters (BCM). Due to topographical and other factors, the utilizable water availability is limited to 1137 BCM per annum, comprising of 690 BCM of surface water and 447 BCM of replenishable ground water.

Water available per person is dependent on population of the country and for India; water availability per capita is reducing progressively due to increase in population.

Initiatives for river development/rejuvenation

The Government of India has taken a number of initiatives for river development/rejuvenation-

1 . The work of development of River Ganga and its tributaries is undertaken by Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation under National Mission for Clean Ganga.

2 . The development work for rest of the rivers is undertaken by Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change under the National River Conservation Plan.

3 . Department of Rural Development has prepared programme for action “River Rejuvenation under MNREGS”.

4 . The Government of India has formulated a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for Water Resources Development which envisages transfer of water from surplus river basins to water deficit river basins. Under the NPP, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) identified 30 inter basin water transfer links (16 under Peninsular Component & 14 under Himalayan Component) for preparation of Feasibility Reports (FR).