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All India Report of First Census of Water Bodies  

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Environment, Conservation


Source: IE

 Context: Ministry of Jal Shakti has launched the 1st Census of Water Bodies in convergence with the 6th Minor Irrigation (MI) Census under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme “Irrigation Census”.



  • Since water is a state subject under the 7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, the relevant State Governments are primarily responsible for taking action.
  • Through a number of schemes and programs, the Central Government offers technical and financial assistance to support their efforts.


The First Census of Water Bodies

  • Objective: To develop a national database for all water bodies by collecting information on their size, condition, status of encroachments, use, storage capacity, the status of filling up of storage, etc.
  • What is unique about the census?
    • Until the 5th minor irrigation census, water body data was only available at the village level.
    • The first water body census included data on all types of water bodies in both rural and urban areas.
    • For the first time, data on the encroachment of water bodies was also gathered during the census.
  • The census defines a water body as: All natural or man-made units bounded on all sides with some or no masonry work used for storing water for irrigation or other purposes (industrial, domestic or drinking, groundwater recharge, etc).


Highlights of the first census:

  • 24,24,540 water bodies have been enumerated in the country, out of which 1% are in rural areas and only 2.9% in urban areas.
  • West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas has been ranked as the top district having the highest (55 lakh) number of water bodies across the country.


Classification of water bodies:

  • West Bengal has the highest number of ponds and reservoirs, whereas Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of tanks.
  • Tamil Nadu has the highest number of lakes and Maharashtra is the leading state with water conservation schemes.


Data on encroachment: 1.6% of water bodies are reported to be encroached, out of which 95.4% are in rural areas and the remaining 4.6% in urban areas.


Way ahead for Augmentation, Conservation and Efficient Management of Water Resources:

  • Inclusion of water bodies in land records
  • Making them an integral part of the town planning process
  • Strict action against the encroachers