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Water crisis in India – problem and its solution

Published on: April 7, 2014 | Updated on: February 2, 2019
Water scarcity images

Water crisis in India

Despite water being an existential need for humans, it’s also one of the most under prioritized but over abused commodity. Water is central to our lives but has not been the central point of focus in our planning while we rapidly evolve into an urban society.

Through time, early societies understood the importance and need for water and planned their lives around it. Civilizations were born and lost on account of water. Today, we have the advantage of this knowledge and we still fail to value it and plan our societies around it.

Let’s focus on India. The world’s oldest civilization grew around the Indus and the Ganges and is still thriving. But not for long. Post-independence, due importance was given to harnessing the power of water by way of controlling and storing of water through large Dams. That was the need of the hour. However, our cities and towns have subsequently grown without planning for water need vs water availability. In 1951, the per capita water availability was about 5177 m3. This has now reduced to about 1545 m3 in 2011 (Source: Water Resources Division, TERI)

Reasons behind water scarcity in India

The water scarcity is mostly man made due to excess population growth and mismanagement of water resources. Some of the major reasons for water scarcity are:

  • Inefficient use of water for agriculture. India is among the top growers of agricultural produce in the world and therefore the consumption of water for irrigation is amongst the highest. Traditional techniques of irrigation causes maximum water loss due to evaporation, drainage, percolation, water conveyance, and excess use of groundwater. As more areas come under traditional irrigation techniques, the stress for water available for other purposes will continue. The solution lies in extensive use of micro-irrigation techniques such as drip and sprinkler irrigation.
  • Reduction in traditional water recharging areas. Rapid construction is ignoring traditional water bodies that have also acted as ground water recharging mechanism. We need to urgently revive traditional aquifers while implementing new ones.
  • Sewage and wastewater drainage into traditional water bodies. Government intervention at the source is urgently required if this problem is to be tackled.
  • Release of chemicals and effluents into rivers, streams and ponds. Strict monitoring and implementation of laws by the government, NGOs and social activists is required.
  • Lack of on-time de-silting operations in large water bodies that can enhance water storage capacity during monsoon. It is surprising that the governments at state levels has not taken this up on priority as an annual practice. This act alone can significantly add to the water storage levels.
  • Lack of efficient water management and distribution of water between urban consumers, the agriculture sector and industry. The government needs to enhance its investment in technology and include all stakeholders at the planning level to ensure optimization of existing resources.

Urban nightmare

The problem has been compounded with increased concretization due to urban development that has choked ground water resources. Water is neither being recharged nor stored in ways that optimizes its use while retaining the natural ingredients of water. In addition, the entry of sewage and industrial waste into water bodies is severely shrinking the availability of potable water. Marine life is mostly lost in these areas already. This is the genesis of a very serious emerging crisis. If we do not understand the source of the problem we will never be able to find sustainable solutions.

As an example, take Hyderabad. This city of Nizams had several water aquifers and water bodies through time. Osmansagar and Himayatsagar lakes were built and have been providing drinking water to the city for well over a hundred years. Excess migration of population to the city coupled with unplanned construction in all directions, resulted in traditional aquifers, which existed in and around the city, being blocked.

There are over 50,000 bore wells operated by the state owned HMWS&SB and private owners that have been drawing ground water. The levels have now fallen significantly. If the ground water cannot recharge, the supply will get only get worse. The demand for water continues to grow while the collection, storage, regeneration and distribution has become over stressed. The story repeats itself across urban centers in India.

Solutions to overcome water scarcity problems


  • A simple addition of a ‘water free’ male urinal in our homes can save well over 25,000 liters of water, per home per year. The traditional flush dispenses around six liters of water per flush. If all male members including boys of the house use the ‘water free urinal’ instead of pulling the traditional flush, the collective impact on the demand for water will reduce significantly. This must be made mandatory by law and followed up by education and awareness both at home and school.
  • The amount of water that is wasted during dish washing at home is significant. We need to change our dish washing methods and minimize the habit of keeping the water running. A small step here can make a significant saving in water consumption.
  • Every independent home/flat and group housing colony must have rain water harvesting facility. If efficiently designed and properly managed, this alone can reduce the water demand significantly.
  • Waste water treatment and recycling for non-drinking purposes. Several low cost technologies are available that can be implemented in group housing areas.
  • Very often, we see water leaking in our homes, in public areas and colonies. A small steady water leak can cause a loss of 226,800 liters of water per year! Unless we are aware and conscious of water wastage we will not be able to avail the basic quantity of water that we need to carry on with our normal lives.

The time to take initiative has arrived.


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I'am a quintessential traveler surfing the winds of time. With horizons everywhere ... still searching for my path.....can I ? ....will I ?....if only time will wait... but the winds... they never wait !!!


Showing 15 Comments :
Annapoorni v v May 5, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Tree plantation is mandatory for increasing underground water resources and to reduce temperature. But in this essay, tree plantation is not mentioned as a solution for water scarcity. Whether it is a slow process or uninterested or having business mind , why did tree plantation has avoided to suggest?


The article is an eye opener and places hard facts.The problem is not water, it is people. A good government knows how to deal with water shortage.Israel has shown the way.
Indeed, finding a viable and speedy solution to our water woes is the need of the hour – Cauvery dispute shows what lies ahead. Even Supreme court directive is being over-ruled.
The Government of India is vigorously pursing the interlinking of rivers as per Supreme Court directive to Central Government to implement the project in a time bound manner. What about land acquisition, rehabilitation, ecological disasters issue that cannot be ignored. A case in point is Aral Sea, once fourth largest lake in the world is a grim reminder of one of the worst ecological disasters caused by man in the last 5 decades. Today the Aral Sea is not even 10% of its original size, a once prosperous region is now a living graveyard and the locals are without a livelihood.
The Himalayan Rivers like Ganga are snow fed and maintain a high to medium rate of flow throughout the year. In the monsoon months the catchment areas are prone to flooding. A novel solution will be harnessing a fraction (say 30% annually) and transportation of this rain water and melting Himalayan snow that otherwise flow into Bay of Bengal to be carried through pipelines or by use of NATM technology alongside railway network of over 67,000 plus route Kms. Instead of heavily investing in new infrastructure for transportation and storage, the existing dams, reservoirs, canals, lakes, abandoned mines be used wherever possible. Minimum land acquisition since in most parts of the country the Railways have land on either side of the railway tracks, so the question of environment clearance is also reduced. This proposal will also partially addresses floods in Bihar, Eastern UP, and Bengal and will cater to drought in other parts of our country.

om prakash sharma September 19, 2016 at 8:04 am

One of the cause before water scarcity in some state like punjab,rajsthan and many northern state is subsidies electricity which is used by the people to draw ground water.
>there is not such a metering regulation in these area on priority basis to control the use of electricity.
>the freehouseholder are using water pumps after an average of every 30 mtrs.
>tubewells are used by the farmers on great electrical subsidy which make them attention free about water level.
>digging well is a very expensive process so the summersible are use for water harvesting that cause water scarcity..thanx friends


Helpful one




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Yes it is very good and important for us

Kandasamy Sivasubramanian December 11, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Dear Sir,
I am Sivasubramanian from Thanjavur in Tamilnadu and I am a post graduate in Geology. Now I am one of the consultant for Ground Water Exploration (Hydrogeologist)for Government&Private Sector Since on 1999 to till Date. Besides, I have been doing successfully for the Groundwater investigation in Taminadu state Since on 2007 to till this time.Hoeever I am ready to do the same work to in all over India.
Kindly inform me How can I operate mj Businees Further and inform me customer contact list.



very good.and very useful for the students.

sidramappa shivashankar dharane October 21, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Water Sustainability for Globe -24 X 7 Water Supply By Using Existing Resources
Sidramappa Shivashanksr Dharane
SVERI’s College of Engineering Pandharpur, Maharashtra,India

24 x 7 water supplies are possible by using existing resources. The small supply of water in the bore wells can be used effectively. The existing pumps can also be used with one regulator to adjust the capacity of pump/speed as per the supply of water in the bore wells which will maintain the continuity of flow; thereby the main principle of getting maximum water from the bore can be achieved i. e. Q outlet ≤ Q inlet. All the bore wells which are not in use because of their small supply of water will also start to function as per their capacities of inlet discharge.

Key words: 24 x7 water supplies, bore wells, speed regulator, existing resources

The whole world is facing the problem of effective water supply because of summer season and drought and so many other reasons. In rural and urban area there are so many tube wells (bore wells), if we adjust the pipe diameter and capacity of pump and introducing one regulatory valve at outlet, we can adjust the outlet discharge from the bore well less than or equal to the inlet discharge i. e. as per supply of water in the tube wells (bore wells). It leads to 24 X 7 water supply in some area and even it is effective in draught. Also it is more effective for irrigation just by constructing small water tanks or by changing methods of irrigation like sprinkler or drip. By using this small principle (outlet discharge less than or equal to inlet discharge ) we can make use of existing bore wells (tube wells) which are not in use because of their less supply of water and save lot of money of nation and can serve nation more effectively.
By the use of adjusting nozzle/regulatory valve (which we are using for vehicle washing) we can adjust the yield from the bore wells as per supply, which gives the continuous supply of water, as per the supply of water from ground in the tube wells and which can be used in any corner of the world. In this case it is not necessary to adjust the capacity of pump and diameter of pipe, and the same existing pipe and pump can be used.
India is agriculture country and facing the great problem of water for various purposes though so many big projects are coming to fulfil the need. Even though it is not possible to supply the water in every corner of the country by means of big projects only. But if we make of use of existing resources up to its optimum use, then it is possible to supply the water effectively in every corner of the world. The one of the existing major resource is a bore well/ tube well. The bore wells which are not in use because of its small supply of water can be used effectively by sound technical knowledge. If this small supply of water is made available effectively then defiantly 24 x 7 water supplies is possible with minimum investments and saves billions of Rs of the nation. In India the numbers of bore wells are not functioning effectively because of its small supply of water. The supply of water in the bore wells varies because of less rainfall, summer, draught etc. this small supply of water can be used by designing the capacity of pumps and pipe diameter for minimum discharge and one regulatory valve can also be used to maintain the continuity of flow. But because of this when the inlet discharge in the bore wells becomes more in rainy season we cannot make use of excess water. And if we design the capacity of pump for maximum inlet discharge there will be fluctuation of water when the inlet supply becomes less in summer and draught and the continuity of flow cannot be maintained which leads to less availability of water for use. So to make use of optimum water, the capacity of pump and diameter of pipe should be such that outlet discharge should be less than or equal to the inlet discharge which maintains the continuity of the flow. But here also the inlet discharge will not remain constant because of more or less rainfall, Season, droughts etc. And also it is not possible to change the pump and pipe diameter as per the inlet discharge. But in such case the continuity of flow can be maintained by using one regulatory valve which can be operated manually up to some extent.
The new approach to adjust the capacity of pump as per the inlet discharge plays very important role for effective water supply and economy. In this case the capacity of the pump should be designed for maximum discharge and one regulator can be used to adjust the capacity of the pump/speed so that we make use of maximum and minimum inlet discharge so that every bore well will start to function as per their capacity. This approach of designing new pump along with regulator to adjust the capacity of pump/speed leads to effective water supply and economy.

1. Effective 24 x 7 water supply
2. Water can be made available in any corner of the country with minimum investment.
3. Existing bore wells which are not in use can be used effectively.
4. Deeper bore wells can be automatically avoided and thereby water table can be maintained at higher level.
5. Saves billions of Rs of the nation for major projects.
6. Overall economy and development can be achieved.

1.Dharane S.S. and Patil V. V. “By using Adjusting Nozzle or regulatory valve 24×7 Water Supply by using Existing Resources”, International Journal of Innovations in Engineering and Technology (IJIET), ISSN: 2319 – 1058, Volume 3 Issue 3 February 2014”, pp 134-135.
2.Dharane Sidramappa Shivashaankar and Patil Raobahdur Yashwant, “By Adjustable Capacity of Pump 24 X 7 Water Supply By Using Existing Resources”, International Journal of Civil Engineering
And Technology (IJCIET), Volume 5, Issue 6, June (2014), pp. 87-88.

    Harshita Rana June 23, 2016 at 1:07 pm

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