Water Issues


  • While water is a renewable resource, it is at the same time a finite resource
  • It is important to appreciate the fact that only 3% of the world’s water is fresh and roughly one-third of it is inaccessible
    • The rest is unevenly distributed and the available supplies are increasingly contaminated with wastes and pollution from industry, agriculture and households
  • The 2018 Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) noted that 6% of economic GDP will be lost by 2050, while water demand will exceed the available supply by 2030.
  • The recent report of NITI Aayog on groundwater level says 21 Indian cities including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad –will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting around 100 million people


Irrigation stress from Agriculture

    • In Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh more than 85% of their net sown area is under irrigation; where wheat and rice are irrigated through tube wells
    • As a result of these states utilising a large proportion of their ground water potential, it has resulted in ground water depletion in these states
    • Also, over withdrawals in some states like Rajasthan, and Maharashtra has increased fluoride concentration in ground-water, and this practice has led to increase in concentration of arsenic in parts of West Bengal and Bihar


Population and Water

    • The per capita availability of water is dwindling day by day due to increase in population
    • Over the years, increasing population, growing industrialization, expanding agriculture and rising standards of living have pushed up the demand for water
    • It is estimated that thirty years from now, approximately one-third of our population will suffer from chronic water shortages


Water quality deterioration

    • When toxic substances enter lakes, streams, rivers, ocean and other water bodies, they get dissolved or lie suspended in water. This results in pollution of water
      • Sometimes, these pollutants also seep down and pollute groundwater. The Ganga and the Yamuna are the two highly polluted rivers in the country.
    • Rivers in the country are polluted mainly due to discharge of untreated or partially treated sewage from cities / towns and industrial effluents in their respective catchments, problems in operation and maintenance of sewage / effluent treatment plants, lack of dilution, dumping of solid waste on river banks and other non-point sources of pollution
    • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2018 identified 351 polluted river stretches in India; Maharashtra has the highest number of polluted rivers at 53