Water is an important natural resource, providing the basis for domestic, agricultural, industrial and other economic activities. Examine the causes for India’s increasing water scarcity. (15 marks)



  • Introduce with India’s water availability
  • Enumerate various causes of India’s water crisis including population, water quality, over-extraction etc.
  • Conclude with the need for sustainable use and people-centric approaches
Model Answer :

Water is an essential ingredient for all life on the planet providing the basis for domestic, agricultural, industrial and other economic activities. India is endowed with many perennial and seasonal rivers. The country also receives a good amount of rain over the year. India accounts for about 2.45 per cent of world’s surface area and 4 per cent of the world’s water resources but India’s per capita availability of water is low.

Major causes for India’s water crisis:

  • Growing population:The insufficient water per person is a result of rapid population growth. With the population rising to 1.2 billion according to 2011 census, India has only 1000 cubic metres of water available per person per year.
  • Poor water quality: Water in most rivers in India is largely not fit for drinking. Most water sources are contaminated by sewage and agricultural runoff. A major reason for the poor water quality is insufficient and delayed investment in urban water treatment facilities.
  • Over-extraction: Groundwater supply and recharging is dwindling due to over extraction by all stakeholders. Growing demand of water for rapid industrialization, urbanization as well as agriculture is putting more pressure on the already scarce water resources of the country.
  • Skewed Distribution of rainfall:Regional disparity in water availability exists between various regions. Some parts of India have arid and semi- arid conditions. Regions such as Rajasthan, Vidarbha, Marathwada and other parts of central and North-West India, receive relatively less rainfall as compared to other parts of the country. These regions are also devoid of perennial rivers.
  • Unsustainable Practices: Unsustainable water utilization such as excessive irrigation. Government policies such as free electricity and minimum support price for water intensive crops have nudged the farmers into choosing unsustainable irrigation techniques. Many of the water scarce regions are also growing water intensive crops.
  • Poor Management:India’s urban areas also have poor and leaky distribution networks leading to water waste. There is lack of sustainable water management policies by the governments along with a lack of public investment in the same.
  • Lack of awareness:Low awareness and implementation of water reuse and recycling. Increased costs and less priority has led to fewer water recycle /treatment plants.

Water stress has a bearing on quality of life as well as the economy. Considering its increasing scarcity, the planning and management of water resource and its optimal, economical and equitable use has become a matter of the utmost urgency. The interplay of various factors that govern access and utilization of water resources need to be considered and it becomes incumbent that we look for holistic and people-centered approaches for water management.

Subjects : Geography