India completes first-ever census of water bodies


India has completed its first-ever census of water bodies, providing a comprehensive inventory of the country’s water resources, including lakes, rivers, natural and man-made ponds, and tanks.

The pioneering census revealed that India has 2.4 million water bodies, of which 97.1 percent are in rural areas. Only 2.9 percent are aggregated in urban parts of India.

The census is important in view of a global shortage of fresh and potable water and efforts to deal with the problem. The United Nations observes 22nd March every year as World Water Day to advocate the sustainable management of freshwater resources everywhere.

The top five Indian states in terms of the number of water bodies are West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Assam. Together, they constitute around 63 percent of India’s total water bodies.

The census considered the uses of water bodies such as in irrigation, industry, pisciculture, domestic use, drinking, recreation, and most importantly, ground water recharge.

“Water is an important aspect of development which is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) formulated by the UN General Assembly in 2015,” said India’s Ministry of Jal Shakti announcing the completion of the census.

“Water is essential and fundamental for life itself. Water is a recyclable resource but its availability is limited and the gap between supply and demand is widening all the time. Therefore, concerted efforts are needed to conserve and preserve water bodies,” the Ministry said.

Jal Shakti (meaning water power in many Indian languages) is the nodal Ministry of the Indian government responsible for laying down policy guidelines and programmes for the development, conservation, and management of water as a national resource.

Krishnan Nayar