Under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the guidance of Union Minister for Jal Shakti Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the Ministry of Jal Shakti conducted the first-ever census of water bodies across India. The census provides a comprehensive inventory of the country’s water resources, including both natural and man-made bodies of water such as ponds, tanks, and lakes. It also collects data on water body encroachment and provides critical insights into the country’s water resources.
All Water Bodies in a Comprehensive National Database
The census was launched as part of the centrally sponsored “Irrigation Census,” in conjunction with the 6th Minor Irrigation Census, in order to create a comprehensive national database of all water bodies. The census gathered data on all important aspects of the water bodies, such as their type, condition, encroachment status, use, storage capacity, storage filling status and so on. It included all water bodies, whether in use or not, in both rural and urban areas.
The Census’s Key Features and Findings
The Census’s key features/findings are as follows:
i) There are 24,24,540 water bodies in the country, with 97.1% (23,55,055) in rural areas and only 2.9% (69,485) in urban areas.
ii) West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Assam are the top 05 states in terms of the number of water bodies, accounting for approximately 63% of the total water bodies in the country.
iii) Ponds account for 59.5% of all water bodies, with tanks (15.7%), reservoirs (12.1%), water conservation schemes/percolation tanks/check dams (9.3%), lakes (0.9%) and others (2.5%).
iv) Private entities own 55.2% of the water bodies, while public entities own 44.8% of the water bodies.
v) Panchayats own the greatest number of public-owned water bodies, followed by State Irrigation/State WRD.
vi) Individual owners/farmers own the most private water bodies, followed by groups of individuals and other private bodies.
vii) Man-made water bodies account for 78% of all water bodies, while natural water bodies account for 22%.
viii) 1.6% (38,496) of all enumerated water bodies are reported to be encroached, with 95.4% in rural areas and the remaining 4.6% in urban areas.
ix) The data on water spread area was reported for 23,37,638 water bodies. 72.4% of these water bodies have a water spread area of less than 0.5 hectares, 13.4% have a water spread area of 0.5-1 hectare, 11.1% have a water spread area of 1-5 hectares and the remaining 3.1% have a water spread area of more than 5 hectares.
x) West Bengal, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand are the top five states in terms of privately owned water bodies.
xi) Major water bodies are reported to be used in pisciculture, followed by irrigation, of all ‘in use’ water bodies.
xii) West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are the top five states in terms of water body use in pisciculture.
xiii) Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and Gujarat are the top five states in terms of water body use.
All India Report 2023 on Census of Water Bodies
State Wise Report 2023 on Census of Water Bodies
The Value of Water Resources
Water is a critical component of development and is linked to all of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is necessary and fundamental to life. Water is a recyclable resource, but its availability is limited and the supply-demand gap is growing over time. As a result, coordinated efforts are required to conserve and preserve water bodies.
The Ministry of Jal Shakti is the nodal ministry in charge of developing policy guidelines and programmes to promote, conserve and manage water as a national resource. On the one hand, the Ministry is spearheading ambitious programmes to provide safe and adequate drinking water to every household in the country, eliminate open defecation in rural areas, rejuvenate the Ganga and its tributaries, improve the safety and operational performance of existing dams and so on. On the other hand, through technical guidance, scrutiny, clearance and monitoring, it is involved in the assessment, development and regulation of the country’s water resources.
The Ministry of Jal Shakti has completed the first-ever census of water bodies in India, providing critical information about the country’s water resources. Policymakers, administrators and all other stakeholders in this sector can work together to conserve and preserve water bodies using the comprehensive national database of all water bodies. The release of the Census report on the Department’s website and distribution via the Bhuvan portal will ensure its accessibility to all.