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First Waterbody Census of India

water bodies census of India

Introduction: The Ministry of Jal Shakti has released India’s first water bodies census report. This is an expanded version of the sixth minor irrigation census. Previously, India conducted a minor irrigation census every five years, specifically focusing on rural water bodies.

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Key Points of the Census:

  • It defines Water bodies “as all natural or human-made units enclosed on all sides, with or without masonry work, used for various purposes, including irrigation, industrial, pisciculture, domestic, drinking, recreation, religious, and groundwater recharge.
  • Excluded from the census are certain types of water bodies, such as oceans, rivers, streams, springs, free-flowing canals, swimming pools, privately constructed covered water tanks, and temporary water bodies formed during activities like mining or construction.

Concerns About Methodology:

  • The census covers only 3,009 out of a total of 7,933 towns in India, leading to an incomplete national picture.
  • Lack of standardized criteria for classifying ponds, lakes, tanks, etc., may result in discrepancies when counting water bodies.
  • The survey is conducted without involving local governments and committees. They are typically the custodians of these water bodies.
  • The census does not provide clarity on encroachments or their location in urban or rural areas.

The first water bodies census is a significant step in assessing and managing India’s water resources. However, there are concerns about its scope, classification criteria, and the absence of local government involvement. This may impact the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the data.

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