Natural Resources – Water Resources


Natural Resources – Water Resources

India is one of the wettest countries in the world, with annual rainfall of 1100 mm. But unfortunately, it is not able to hold all the water it receives. Since from independence our water policy has mainly concentrated on highly visible dams and canal systems and ignored minor irrigation works, wells tanks etc.

Extent of water resources: Unfortunately we have no arrangements in our country to compile and publish on an annual basis. Due to lack of comprehensive data regarding various aspects of water programme formulation and monitoring the efficiency of use of our scarce water resource could not be possible. However some experts have attempted to estimate the water resource, Shri. B. S. Nag and G. N. Kathpalia made an estimate of water resources of India for the National Commission on Agriculture for the year 1974 and also for the year 2015. The same are summarized in following table.

Table: Annual water resources of India 1974 & 2015

(Figures are in MHM i.e. Million Hectare Meters)

Sr. No





Total Precipitation




Immediate Evaporation




Run-off to surface water bodies (rivers)




Percolation in the soil




Water Utilization




i. Contribution of ground water




ii. Contribution of surface flows



Sources: The State of India’s Environment (1984-85). The second citizen’s report, centre for science and environment.
From the data given in table it is revealed that the total precipitation of 400 million hectare meters per year is distributed in three important ways. They are

  1. Immediate evaporation – 70 million hectares meters

  2. Run-off to surface water bodies – 115 million hectares meters

  3. Percolation in the soil — 215 million hectares meters.

The percolated water in the soil, of course, help, soil moisture and recharge ground water. The run-off to surface water bodies, 115 million hectare meters of water we are wasting annually. This water goes to nalas, rivers and finally seas and oceans.

The water utilization figures given in table indicates that in the year 1974 utilization was hardly 38 MHM which is estimated for the year 2015 to the tune of 105 MHM per year. It was and will be contributed by ground water and surface water in the ratio 1:2

The utilization of water is generally for irrigation purpose i.e. 92% of toa1 water utilization while 8% water use for industry and domestic purpose. By and large it has been observed that in future India has to face the problem of acute shortage of water. The solution on this will be water conservation only.

Acute water shortages have already been experienced by most of the parts of Tamil-Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan etc. Due to this shortage people from different parts of our country suffer from drought and famine. On the contrary, India is also one of the most flood prone areas of the world. About 250 to 270 million people now live in areas that may be affected by floods frequently.

The statistics pertaining to this aspect indicate that over 70 per cent of all flood victims live in India and Bangladesh. This proves that on one side we have failed to conserve water which results into drought and famine and on other side we have failed to control floods which results into great damage on our soil resources through water logging and salivation.

Ground water and its proper use assume great significance for our country. Unfortunately there is no accurate survey of ground water resource. But according to gues estimate India’s ground water resource would be about 3700 MHM, or about 10 times the annual precipitation. It has been estimated that India’s annual exploitable potential of ground water is 45 MHM but only 13 MHM are being exploited at present. However since from 1960, the use of ground water has been increasing. In 1961, only 1 percent of the net irrigated land was irrigated by tube well but 1983-84 26% land got the benefit of tube well irrigation. However, now a day we are facing the problem of declining ground water table as the water withdrawal is creator than the recharge. Mast parts of the southern states are facing this problem in our country. Another serious problem with ground water resource is coming across and that is pollution of ground water e.g. Pollution of ground water by the effluents and tanneries in Tamil-Nadu, textile printing and dying units in Rajasthan and by coir units in Kerala. The pollution in ease of surface water is detectible but it is difficult to defect and rectify in case of ground water.

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