A striking fact about water in India is the lack of reliable data about all its aspects: total potential, available supply and demand
INDIA FACES serious challenges to sustain its water resources as agriculture, industry and domestic sectors compete with each other for the scarce resource. The situation is exacerbated by poor water management practices, over-extraction of surface and groundwater and pollution. Unfortunately, there is a lack of reliable data about the total potential of water resources and supply and demand of water.
Rainfall, India’s primary source of freshwater, is estimated to be 4,000 billion cubic metre (BCM), but it varies widely across states, seasons and years. The Planning Commission’s Steering Committee on water resources for the 11th Five Year Plan reported that India’s water resources potential is 1,869 BCM, including groundwater. This is when “utilisable” water resources have been assessed at 1,123 BCM, of which 690 BCM are from surface water and 433 BCM from groundwater. Besides, the surface water estimates have remained unchanged for several decades—the National Agricultural Commission report in 1976 and subsequent estimates by the Central Water Commission in 1988 and 2001 have mentioned this number. But Planning Commission’s working group for the 12th Plan said it failed to locate any document explaining the basis for the estimate.