Water Scarcity in India

Water Scarcity in India

Water Scarcity in India

Water is the essence of life. It is needed to ensure food security, take up industrial production, and protect the environment. Since ancient times Indian culture has encouraged water preservation and environment conservation through spiritual teachings and sacred texts.

Today, India is facing several challenges such as the growth of population, scarcity of drinking water, deceptive monsoon rains, etc. To counter these challenges and promote sustainable development, the Indian legal system provides four significant sources of law related to water pollution:

1. Comprehensive legislation which regulates prevention, preservation and abate of water pollution, i.e., Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

2. Environment Protection Act, 1986 also covers water-related issues.

3. Public nuisance action against polluters

4. Public interest litigations under the aegis of Article 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution 

In State of Orissa v. Government of India Katju, J. opined that the right to get water is a part of life guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. Water is a gift of nature. Human hand cannot be permitted to convert this bounty into a curse and oppression. Right to live guaranteed in any civilized society implies the right to food, water, decent environment, education, medical care and shelter. These are basic human rights known to any civilized society.


Water Crisis in India

Man has exploited water more than any other resource on this planet. Most of the water on this planet is stored in oceans and ice caps which unusable. The water demand is fulfilled by rainwater, groundwater, rivers and lakes. Most of these resources in India is getting highly polluted or scarce due to high usage. Though the government and several NGOs have taken several steps, but the quality of water resources seems to be far from satisfactory. The river Ganga which is considered most important and spiritual river of India is a toxic dump of highly polluting industries and municipal corporations. As per 42nd amendment in the Indian Constitution Article 51A (g) confers a duty on the citizens to protect and conserve natural resources. But lack of knowledge and coordination between various governing bodies and proper operation and maintenance of treatment plants has led to the scarcity of water.

India is going through the worst water crisis in history. According to Niti Aayog, more than 600 million people are facing acute water shortage. With 70% of water contaminated, India 120 out of 122 countries in the water quality index.

The report of Niti Aayog says that “By 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual ~6% loss in the country’s GDP”. The report added that the total availability of water is still “lower than this projected demand, at 1,137 BCM”. “Thus, there is an imminent need to deepen our understanding of our water resources and usage and put in place interventions that make our water use efficient and sustainable”. 40% of the total population will not have access to drinking water by 2030.