More than 55% of India’s water bodies are private property

আপডেট: এপ্রিল ২৬, ২০২৩

Around 55% of India’s water bodies are privately owned, with most lying in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Jharkhand.

In all, the country has 2.4 million water bodies, according to the first-ever exercise to enumerate them carried out in 2018-19.

India’s first water census report (pdf) defines a water body as a structure where “water from ice-melt, streams, springs, rain or drainage of water from residential or other areas is accumulated, or water is stored by diversion from a stream or a river.”

Of all water bodies in India, 97.1% are in rural areas; 2.9% in urban areas. The functional or “in-use” water bodies are used for pisciculture, irrigation, and groundwater recharge, the report said. Moreover, 78% of them are man-made, and the rest are natural.

The Indian Express reported that seven types were excluded from the count:

oceans and lagoons

free-flowing ones like rivers and springs

swimming pools

covered tanks used by a family or household

tanks built for the use of water as raw material or consumable in factories

temporary water bodies that may get filled during the rains

open water tanks created for cattle

India’s water crisis is complex

The availability of safe drinking water has been a major challenge in the world’s most populous nation. Contamination and a lack of access to piped supply, together with the effects of climate change, have caused acute water stress in the country.

“Two-thirds of India’s 718 districts are affected by extreme water depletion,” according to Unicef. “Close to 54% of rural women—as well as some adolescent girls—spend an estimated 35 minutes getting water every day, equivalent to the loss of 27 days’ wages over a year.”