India is well endowed with fresh water resources. Critically examine why it still suffers from water scarcity.

India has many perennial rivers in the Northern parts and many seasonal rivers in the Southern part. The country also receives a good amount of rain over the year. Despite this, the country suffers from water scarcity. One of the reasons for water scarcity is the huge and growing population. We have 1000 cubic meters of water available per person while a country is considered water stressed if it has less than 1700 cubic meters per person per year. The corresponding figure for India in 1951 was 3000-4000 while is 8000 for the United States currently. Another reason is the poor water quality resulting from insufficient and delayed investment in urban water treatment facilities. Water in most rivers in India is not fit for drinking.
Most water sources are contaminated by sewage and agricultural runoff. The facilities created for water treatment are not maintained properly because adequate fees are not charged for water supply. Industrial efficient standards are not enforced because the state pollution control boards have inadequate technical and human resources. Another problem is dwindling groundwater supplies due to over extraction by farmers. This rate of extraction has been steadily increasing over the years. Low costs charged for irrigation facilities by State Governments also means that there is inefficient and wasteful use of water for irrigation by farmers. There is a need to increase irrigated area further, but this has to be done by increasing efficiency of irrigation. India’s urban areas also have poor and leaky distribution networks leading to water waste. We have a lack of sustainable water management policies in any of the governments alongwith a lack of public investment is the same.

Question for UPSC Mains:
India is well endowed with fresh water resources. Critically examine why it still suffers from water scarcity.

Published: January 27, 2018 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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