[pib] Dream of ‘Har Ghar Jal’ will be realized by 2030

  1. Context: Government launched National Water Quality Sub Mission on Arsenic and Fluoride
  2. Aim: To provide safe drinking water to about 28,000 affected habitations in the country by March 2021 with an outlay of Rs 25,000 crore
  3. Issues: West Bengal is badly affected by the problem of arsenic, Rajasthan suffers from presence of fluoride in drinking water with serious health hazards
  4. There will be no discrimination of funds against any state to address the twin challenges of drinking water and sanitation
  5. The Government is committed to providing tap water on a sustained basis in every household by 2030 as per the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for which Rs 23,000 crore of central fund will be required annually till the target is achieved


A Prelim tit-bit.


Saving tanks, the community way

  1. News: After nearly two decades, several waterbodies in Tiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu will soon be rejuvenated with community support under the kudimaramath scheme
  2. The problems: The revival of the kudimaramath scheme has delighted farmers in many villages where the waterbodies that feed irrigation needs have not been desilted for many years
  3. Narthawada lake, which is the only source of irrigation for 100 farmers in the village, has been left neglected for 15 years
  4. Some farmers refrain from cultivation to escape crop damage during monsoon as the two sluice gates are damaged
  5. Benefits: The restoration of the lake and say it will help paddy cultivation across nearly 100 hectares
  6. A total of 46 waterbodies with an ayacut area of 4,000 hectares would be improved
  7. Besides desilting and de-weeding the lakes, the supply channels, surplus courses and sluice gates would also be improved
  8. Mud deposits in supply channels, which block free flow of water, would also be removed
  9. The silt removed from the lakes would be used to strengthen the bund
  10. The rejuvenation of the lakes would benefit a minimum of 200 farmers in several villages as they would have better storage capacity


The scheme is state specific but some regional schemes become important for their potential impact. Just go through it.

Madras High Court rejects plea to stop Tamirabarani water for soft drink units

  1. News: The Madras High Court Bench dismissed a couple of public interest litigation petitions filed against supply of Tamirabarani river water
  2. The water is supplied by the Small Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) to industries set up by co-packers of PepsiCo and Coca-Cola at the Industrial Growth Centre (IGC) in Gangaikondan in Tirunelveli district
  3. Why dismissed? The State government’s submission that only 43 mcft out of 5,049 mcft of surface water that goes waste into the sea was being supplied to the two industries
  4. Such supply does not affect either irrigation or drinking water needs of the people in any way
  5. The PIL petitioners had failed to submit any scientific proof or material to show that supply of water to the two industries would adversely affect either agriculture or drinking water requirement
  6. However, the bench also expressed its anguish over the State government not having taken any steps in the last 70 years to avoid surplus outflow of Tamirabarani river water into the sea
  7. Pick and choose: Bench said the litigants had chosen to file the cases against the two industries alone, though others in the IGC were drawing much more water
  8. Ulterior motive: The Bench also held that that one of the two PIL petitioners had filed the case with an ulterior motive
  9. He had filed the petition without disclosing the fact that he was once a lawyer for the co-packer of Coca-Cola and began initiating various litigations against the company after his services were dispensed with due to his unethical practices


The issue to be noted here is that of “private” interest litigation- the PILs being used for ulterior motives and unnecessarily clogging the judicial system.

Water poverty to be a challenge for Palakkad households: study

  1. Source: A survey conducted by the Department of Geography, Government College, Chittur
  2. With the fast drying up of water resources and alarming depletion of groundwater, water poverty would soon become the major challenge for households in Palakkad district
  3. Palakkad stands top among the districts in Kerala on many counts in the Water Poverty Index (WPI)
  4. Money spent: Families will have to spend a lot of money in sourcing water if the situation continues unabated
  5. Quality: High content of fluoride along with large-scale contamination makes the drinking water unsafe & the situation would turn worse in the coming years
  6. Every year, a large number of cholera cases are getting reported from the banks of the Bharathapuzha, especially from Pattambi-Thrithala regions
  7. Water-borne diseases are very much high in Palakkad while comparing with other districts
  8. While the household consumption has increased in other parts of the State, it has remained by and large stable in Palakkad in the last four years
  9. However, the alarming depletion in groundwater level is creating a major problem


The news is locality specific but the issue is pervading in India. WPI is very important fo prelims; see it in b2b.


What is WPI?

  1. The WPI is a measure that combines indices of water availability and access with indices of people’s capacity to pay
  2. It is a new holistic water management tool that is mainly relevant at the community level
  3. It can be used to determine priorities for action and to monitor progress towards targets.

What is the WPI for?

  1. To provide a better understanding of the relationship between the physical extent of water availability, its ease of abstraction, and the level of community welfare
  2. A mechanism for the prioritisation of water needs
  3. A tool by which progress in the water sector can be monitored (e.g. towards Millennium Development Goals)
  4. The WPI is mainly designed to help improve the situation facing the one to two billion people facing poor water endowments and poor adaptive capacity

Benefits of using WPI:

  1. When water allocation systems fail, poor people often have to use insecure or polluted sources, and conflicts over water use can arise
  2. By making water management decisions more equitable and transparent, the WPI can contribute to the eradication of conditions like this which strengthen the poverty trap
  3. The WPI takes account of the water needs of the environment so that this can be integrated into water management strategies – this will help to maintain ecological integrity and protect the ecosystems that are essential to support our livelihoods
  4. By incorporating measures of water use by industry and agriculture, the WPI does not neglect the importance of water needs for food and other productive purposes

The WPI follows few criteria in order to ensure that it will be useful:

  1. Easy to calculate
  2. Cost effective to implement
  3. Based mostly on existing data
  4. A transparent process
  5. Easy to understand

[pib] Negotiation Committee Constituted on Mahanadi and its Tributaries

  1. What? Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has constituted a negotiations committee
  2. Why? To assess availability and utilisation of waters of Mahanadi and its tributaries
  3. The committee will also examine existing water sharing agreements on river Mahanadi and will consider claims of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand regarding availability and utilisation of waters of these rivers
  4. The committee has been set up with reference to complaint of State of Odisha under section 3 of the ISRWD Act, 1956 regarding utilisation of waters of Mahandi Basin

[op-ed snap] Surviving the drought


  1. Tamil Nadu’s move to declare a drought, on the eve of the harvest festival of Pongal
  2. It is an important step to address the agrarian distress that is sweeping the State following poor rainfall during the northeast monsoon

Condition of farmers:

  1. Even with relatively better governance structures, desperation among farmers has resulted in a spate of suicides, particularly in the Cauvery delta rice belt that has received little water from Karnataka in recent times

Official declaration:

  1. An official declaration of drought brings relief: postponement of loan recovery, waiver of land tax and alternative employment through schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

Course of action:

  1. The challenge now is to infuse confidence among farmers that the government is fully behind them
  2. As agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan has pointed out, there is a need to look ahead and institute reforms in drought management for effective distress mitigation
  3. These should be founded on a participatory approach, one that intensively engages the farm community year-round
  4. A monsoon management centre drawing upon the expertise of multiple departments would, for instance, help use scarce resources conservatively during a drought, and maximise their potential in good times
  5. It is also crucial to preserve the health of cattle and other livestock, as they tend to suffer irreparable harm during drought, with cascading effects on their future productivity
  6. The Centre should provide all support to achieve this under the National Disaster Response Fund and the Prime Minister’s crop insurance scheme
  7. The Centre shold ensure that the Drought Management Manual is updated to reflect farmers’ concerns
  8. They should be given weightage to the amount of rainfall deficit
  9. In Tamil Nadu, excessive reliance on water-intensive rice cultivation, and lower priority for hardy millets have raised the risk for many farmers
  10. Active recharging of groundwater and harvesting of surface water are vital to meet the challenges

The National Commission on Farmers:

  1. It pointed out that successive droughts, illness, high expenditure on social obligations and asset loss push farmers to the brink
  2. Not much has changed in the management of drought from the low-budget practices of the colonial era


The op-ed is important for Mains exam. The importance of welfare support for small and marginal farmers cannot be overstated, given the vagaries of the monsoon. The government needs look after these farmers. Note down the points on measures to be taken given above.

Study throws light on groundwater, rainfall link

  1. The study: While changes in monsoon rainfall pattern during the period of study can largely explain the total variability of groundwater storage in north-central and south India, the usage of groundwater for irrigation purposes accounts for groundwater variability in northwest India
  2. The increased usage of groundwater for irrigation in northwest India is, in turn, linked to changes in monsoon rainfall pattern
  3. In north-central and south India, rainfall is a major driver of groundwater storage change
  4. But in northwest India, groundwater pumping is a major cause of groundwater storage variability
  5. How? Reduced monsoon rainfall in north India due to Indian Ocean warming has led to reduced groundwater storage and increased usage of groundwater for irrigation
  6. For instance, over the Gangetic Plain and other parts of north India monsoon rainfall has been declining since 1950, leading to reduced recharge of groundwater
  7. As a result of declining monsoon rainfall and intensive agriculture, groundwater withdrawals in the country have increased over tenfold since the 1950s — from 10-20 cubic km per year in 1950, to 240-260 cubic km per year in 2009


This can be a supporting data in mains answer for question like ‘The effective management of land and water resources will drastically reduce the human miseries. Explain’ asked in Mains-2016.

Don’t dig well when house is on fire, SC tells Centre

  1. SC warned the Centre of not repeating last year’s mistakes in tackling the drought situation in various parts of the country this time
  2. Asked the Govt to be ready with relief measures for drought in certain parts of country this year
  3. Context: The observation came when it was pointed out that several districts have had deficient rainfall and a situation like last year may emerge again which may catch the government napping

Discuss: In general, successive governments in India have failed to manage droughts effectively. What are the factors that have hindered effective management of droughts?

Free power for farmers is fuelling water crisis: Environment Minister- III

  1. Water intensive crops: India has 17% of the world’s population but only 4% of the fresh water reserves
  2. Despite this, we are consuming three times more water for agriculture than USA, Brazil or China
  3. Need: Moving towards less water-intensive crops
  4. Soil degradation: Has resulted from excessive use of inorganic fertilisers like urea & India must pursue policies based on its own realities.
  5. India’s decolonisation is still pending: The British had drafted the Indian Penal Code and the Forest Act
  6. Shouldn’t independent India now have its own forest law, where the forests, its dwellers, scheduled tribes and wildlife can live in an integrated manner?

Discuss: Researches have shown that there is excess groundwater exploitation in India. What are the reasons for continuing groundwater exploitation? What measures need to be taken for its judicious use?

Free power for farmers is fuelling water crisis: Environment Minister- II

  1. We think about consumption but we don’t talk about utility & disciplined consumption
  2. If the country’s future water problem has to be tackled, then it needs the Gandhian philosophy that others also have a right on water bodies and one must take only as much as you need
  3. Not only do we have to enhance and improve water consumption for irrigation, we need very strong regulations for ground water management
  4. Too much of water is being consumed because we are not charging people for electricity
  5. Groundwater consumption for irrigation: It has gone up from 20% in the 1950s to over 64% now

Free power for farmers is fuelling water crisis: Environment Minister- I

  1. Issue: Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change linked the rampant extraction of groundwater to the free electricity supplied to farmers
  2. Solution: A fresh approach towards rivers and water bodies to impose discipline on water consumption
  3. He stressed that India’s environmental challenges — be it about water or degrading soil quality — are rooted in policy decisions taken without factoring in India’s needs
  4. Regulations: Backed a call for stronger ground water management regulations made by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant
  5. NITI CEO: Free electricity has made people drill deeper to get water for irrigation and is turning large parts of States such as Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana barren

Water levels in 91 major reservoirs alarmingly low

  1. Context: Weekly data released by Central Water Commission (CWC)
  2. Live storage: It is 35.839 BCM (Billion Cubic Meters), which is 23% of the total live storage capacity of these reservoirs
  3. Also, overall, 74 of the total 91 reservoirs have storage levels lower than the average of last ten years
  4. Current storage: It is 67% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 77% of storage of average of last ten years
  5. Reason: The depleting water levels are due to two years of poor rainfall in the country
  6. Regions: The central and eastern regions have storage levels better than the national average whereas the western and southern regions are the most affected

Govt. organizes India Water Week – 2016

  1. Basics: India Water Week is a key initiative for sharing best practices and exchanging ideas to identify timely solutions to critical water issues confronting our world today
  2. Purpose: To showcase technologies and solutions for improving efficiencies in water use
  3. Focus: On the multi-disciplinary approach to water
  4. Future: To prioritize resilient eco-systems, modern data management systems and innovations in technology

No stay on IPL inaugural match: Bombay HC

  1. Context: The Bombay High Court refused to stay the first match of IPL
  2. Background: It was hearing a PIL petition by Loksatta Movement
  3. What? 60 lakh litres of water is being wasted for maintaining pitches for the IPL when the State is reeling under its worst drought
  4. Source: Court has asked the Maharashtra government to hold an inquiry to know the source of water provided to cricket stadiums

Govt to build 500,000 ponds in rural areas

  1. News: The govt will build 500,000 ponds in rural areas which can be used for drinking water
  2. How? MGNREGA will be used for asset creation in rural areas, especially in the field of water conservation
  3. Digital India: The govt had come up with a Kisan Suvidha app which can be used by farmers for information about weather conditions, crops and new farming techniques

World Water Day being observed on March 22

  1. Context: It is to mark the importance of water to human civilisation and nature
  2. Relevance: Part of Decade for Water (2005-2015) activity by the United Nations
  3. Theme: Better water, better jobs
  4. Aim: To highlight how water can create paid and decent work while contributing to a greener economy and sustainable development
  5. Focus: On importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources
  6. First proposed in: Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro

Water levels in reservoir at alarming levels

  1. Context: NTPC Ltd has been forced to curtail electricity production at a plant in West Bengal
  2. Why? Because of low water levels in the Farakka feeder canal
  3. Data: Weekly data by Central Water Commission shows that storage availability at 91 major reservoirs in the country is a mere 29% of their total storage capacity
  4. The same measure last year was a respectable 40%
  5. These reservoirs account for about 62% of the estimated capacity to have been created in India

Budget thrust on SHGs could help drought-hit areas

  1. News: Union Budget’s thrust on promoting self-help groups (SHGs)
  2. Context: It will promote multiple sources of livelihood in drought-prone areas and throw out a large number of moneylenders, pawnbrokers and private finance corporations out of business
  3. How? Every block in distress areas would be taken up as an intensive block under the Deen Dayal Antyodaya Mission
  4. Formation of SHGs: would be expedited to promote multiple livelihoods
  5. Cluster Facilitation Teams (CFT): set up under MNREGA to ensure water conservation and natural resource management
  6. These districts would also be taken up on a priority under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana
  7. Benefit to: Karnataka, the most drought-prone State after Rajasthan

80% of India’s population faces severe water scarcity: study

  1. Context: The study published in international journal Science Advances
  2. Severe water scarcity: for at least one month of the year- About 4 billion people, or 66% of the global population
    Of these, nearly a billion are in India
  3. Moderate to severe water scarcity: for at least a month of the year- 4.3 billion people, which is about 71% of the global population.
  4. Relevance: Every 2nd person in the world facing severe water scarcity for at least a month a year is from India and China
  5. Concern: 80% of India’s 1.25 billion population faces severe water scarcity for at least a month every year

Progress of Jal Kranti Abhiyan reviewed

Ministry of Water Resources proposed to extend the programme for 2 more years

  1. The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation initiated Jal Kranti Abhiyan during 2015-16
  2. For creating awareness on aspects of water security and water conservation.
  3. The Abhiyan was inaugurated by Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in Rajasthan in June 2015.
  4. Under Jal Kranti Abhiyan, 2 villages, preferably facing acute water scarcity are being selected as “Jal Grams”.
  5. An integrated water security plan, water conservation and allied activities are being planned by Panchayat level committee to ensure optimum and sustainable utilization of water.
  6. Totally 1348 villages have to be identified in 674 districts, out of which 1001 have been selected as Jal Grams.

‘Aerobic’ rice cultivation reduces water usage

  1. Growing rice plant as irrigated crop like cultivating maize and wheat in aerobic condition, where oxygen is plenty in soil.
  2. The suitable areas includes irrigated lowlands,delta regions, irrigated system of rice cultivation and favourable upland system has access to supplementary irrigation.
  3. In aerobic rice cultivation, rice is cultivated as direct sown in non-puddle aerobic soil under supplementary irrigation and fertiliser.
  4. Mechanised way of sowing with no puddling, transplanting and not need of frequent irrigation.
  5. A new improved upland rice variety, Apo developed by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) under aerobic rice cultivation system raised during dry season.
  6. Constrains in aerobic rice cultivation is increased weed growth, poor crop stand, crop lodging, high percentage of panicle sterility and root-knot nematode infestation.
  7. In environmental point of view, emission of methane is lower substantially in aerobic rice.

Water, water everywhere & not a drop to drink

  1. Aquifers in 15% of assessment blocks are overexploited.
  2. Groundwater in many areas is also found to be contaminated by geogenic arsenic, fluoride, nitrate and iron.
  3. The National Water Policy (NWP) expresses the need to treat water resources as a national resource.
  4. Irrigation accounts for over 70% of the total water usage and hence the greatest need to adopt good practices is in this sector.
  5. Instead of flooding the field, try to adopt – drip and sprinkler systems + lining of canals and common water channels.

World Water Day observed on March 22

  1. Every year World Water Day is marked on 22 March. It is observed to preserve and ration consumption of water.
  2. Proposed in Agenda 21 of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1992).
  3. Later, the UN General Assembly accepted the recommendation of UNCED and celebrated first World Water Day on 22 March 1993.

‘Water Man’ Rajendra Singh wins Stockholm Water Prize

  1. He was awarded this prize for his innovative water restoration efforts.
  2. Rajendra Singh worked with the NGO-Tarun Bharat Singh (TBS) & started a movement to purify traditional rainwater tanks.
  3. He helped in the rejuvenation of Arvari River & was awarded ‘International River Prize’.
  4. Was also member of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) from 2009-12.
  5. He was awarded with Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2001.

    Discuss: The Stockholm award was founded (1991) and financed by Stockholm Water Foundation. 

Questions (attempt in the comments section)


“The prevailing water crisis in Maharashtra is not about the unavailability of water resources. It’s all about criminal mismanagement of available resources. The drought is a man-made disaster.” Critically comment.


“The water crisis is not just the result of two consecutive failed monsoons, it is a direct outcome of the inability of the governments over decades to manage sensibly, sensitively and sustainably India’s water resources.” Discuss.


Despite not being a water-short country, India is facing several challenges when it comes to conserve water for irrigation purposes. Examine these challenges and suggest the measures needed to conserve water for irrigation purposes.


It is said that short-sighted political tactics and agricultural inefficiencies are worsening the water crisis in India. Do you agree? What are the other causes of this crisis? Discuss.

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