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Water Shortage Threat in India

Water Shortage Threat in India

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India is facing a threat of water shortage as water levels in reservoirs across India have reported lower storage levels than last year.


  • Storage Capacity: The live storage capacity in India’s 150 primary reservoirs stands at just 38% of their total capacity, which is less than the last decade’s average for the same period.
  • Southern India: The Southern region, which includes States like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (two combined projects in both States), Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, monitors 42 reservoirs.
    • The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 23% of their total live storage capacity.
    • This marks a decrease compared to the storage levels during the corresponding period last year (39%) and the average storage over the past ten years (32%).
    • Cities like Bengaluru are already grappling with a shortfall of around 500 million litres of water per day (MLD), against a demand of 2,600 MLD.

Reasons behind Water Scarcity in India

  • Inefficient agricultural practices and excessive groundwater extraction have depleted crucial water sources.
  • Climate change further aggravates the situation, causing irregular rainfall patterns and affecting the recharge of rivers and aquifers.
  • Poor water management and lack of proper infrastructure also play a significant role in exacerbating the crisis.
  • Deforestation and degradation of watersheds lead to soil erosion and reduced infiltration capacity, affecting groundwater recharge and overall water availability.
  • Rapid urbanisation and industrialisation have led to increased pollution of water bodies, making them unfit for consumption.


  • Reduced water availability impacts agriculture, the backbone of the country’s economy, leading to lower crop yields and increased food prices.
  • Communities suffer from inadequate sanitation and hygiene, resulting in waterborne diseases.
  • It leads towards the conflicts over water resources among different sectors and communities.
  • Water scarcity can trigger migration from rural to urban areas or from water stressed regions to areas with better water availability.
    • This movement of people can strain urban infrastructure and exacerbate social tensions.
  • Reduced water flow in rivers and reservoirs leads to decreased power generation capacity, impacting energy supply and increasing dependence on alternative sources of energy.

Government Initiatives to Tackle Shortage of Water in India

National Water Mission (NWM): NWM aims to conserve water, minimize wastage, and ensure equitable distribution of water across various sectors.

  • It focuses on promoting water use efficiency, groundwater recharge, and sustainable development of water resources.

Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM): Launched in 2019, the Jal Jeevan Mission aims to provide piped water supply to all rural households by 2024.

  • The mission focuses on decentralized water management, community participation, and leveraging technology to ensure safe and sustainable water supply in rural areas.

Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY): Launched in 2019, the Atal Bhujal Yojana aims to improve groundwater management and promote sustainable groundwater use in identified water-stressed areas across India.

  • It focuses on community participation, demand-side management, and groundwater recharge measures.

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY): It was launched in 2015-16 to enhance physical access of water on farm and expand cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency, introduce sustainable water conservation practices, etc.

The Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT): It was launched in 2015 in selected 500 cities and focuses on the development of basic urban infrastructure in the Mission cities in the sectors of water supply, sewerage & septage management, storm water drainage, green spaces & parks and non-motorized urban transport.

Namami Gange Programme: Launched in 2014, it aims to rejuvenate the River Ganga and its tributaries by addressing pollution, promoting sustainable wastewater management, and restoring the ecological health of the river basin.

Interlinking of Rivers (ILR): The National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has been entrusted with the work of inter-linking of rivers under the National Perspective Plan (NPP).

  • NPP has two components, viz., Himalayan Rivers Development Component and Peninsular Rivers Development Component.
  • 30 link projects have been identified under NPP.


  • Implementing efficient water management practices, such as rainwater harvesting and watershed management, can help replenish water sources.
  • Investing in water treatment systems and improving irrigation techniques can reduce wastage and pollution.
  • Raising awareness about water conservation among the public and encouraging responsible water use is vital.
  • Additionally, policies that promote sustainable water allocation and management are essential for long-term solutions.
  • By using modern technologies, such as IoT, AI, and remote sensing, water consumption can be measured and managed more effectively.

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