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Water Resources in India

Water is essential for human civilization, living organisms, and natural habitat. It is used for drinking, cleaning, agriculture, transportation, industry, recreation, and animal husbandry, producing electricity for domestic, industrial and commercial use. Due to the multiple benefits and the issues generated shortages, by its excesses and quality corrosion, water as a resource demands attention. On a global scale level of water is roughly 1600 million cubic kilometers. The cycle goes enormous quantity of water . But a lot of the world’s water has little possibility for human usage because 97.5percent of all water in the world is saline water. Out from the remaining 2.5% freshwater, most of which lies frozen and deep from Antarctica and Greenland, just about 0.26% fish in rivers, lakes and from the lands and shallow aquifers which are readily usable for humanity.

Sources of Water in India


The great mountain mass of Himalayas in the North and the ocean in the South are the two major influences operating on the climate of India. The Himalaya poses an impenetrable barrier to the influence of cold winds from central Asia and gives the sub-continent the elements of the tropical type of climate. The oceans are the source of moisture-laden winds, giving India the elements of the oceanic type of climate.

India has a diversity and selection of climate along with an even greater variety of weather conditions. The climate ranges from extremes of heat to extremes of cold; from extreme aridity and slight rainfall to excessive humidity and torrential rainfall. The climatic condition influences to a great extent the water resources utilization in the country


Rainfall in India is dependent on the South-West and North-East monsoons, on shallow cyclonic depressions and disturbances and on violent local storms which form regions where cool humid winds from the sea meet hot dry winds from the land and occasionally reach cyclonic dimension.  The Majority of the rainfall in India takes place under the effect of South West monsoon between June except in Tamil Nadu in which it is under the influence of North-East monsoon throughout November and October. The typical rainfall, i.e. total precipitation divided by the whole land area, is roughly 12 15 mm. However, there is considerable variation in rainwater which ranges to more than 2500 mm in northeastern locations from over 100 millimeters from the western Rajasthan.

Rivers of India

India is blessed with many rivers. Land slope determines the river to which the rain falling on an area will eventually flow. A river basin also called the catchment area of the river, is the area from which the rain will flow into that particular river.  Dimensions and the design of the river basin are dependent on the topography. Following are the major river basins bands in India.

Indus system

This includes the river Indus and its tributaries such as the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej. These originate in the North and normally flow in a West or Southwest direction to finally flow to the Arabian Sea throughout Pakistan.

Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghana system

The major river Ganga and its tributaries such as several more, Sone, Gandak, Kosi and the Yamuna; their tributaries, and similarly chief rivers that the Brahmaputra, Meghna. All these eventually flow into the Bay of Bengal, throughout Bangladesh. Some of the tributaries of the lakes tend to be larger than other rivers. E.g. that the Yamuna, a tributary of Ganga, features a bigger catchment area compared to Tapi, a tiny peninsula river.


Rivers of Rajasthan and Gujrat

Mahi, Sabarmati, Luni etc. All these are all rivers of arid regions, they take a relatively little leak, some of their flow to the Arabian Sea through Gujrat while others are landlocked and their leak is lost through percolation and evaporation in the vast arid regions.

East Flowing Peninsular Rivers

The important members of this group are Damodar, Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitrani, Subarnarekha, Krishna-Godavari and Kaveri. The all flow into Bay of Bengal at various places along the Eastern coast of India.

West Flowing Peninsular Rivers

Narmada and Tapi. These originate in Central India and flow in a Western direction to meet the Arabian Sea south of Gujrat.

Western Coast Rivers

A large number of rivers at the Western Coast – i.e. coastal Maharashtra and Karnataka, and entire Kerala. These rivers are small length but carry a substantial quantity of water thanks to high rainfall in western ghats. They drain only 3% of India’s land area, however, take 11% of India’s water resources.

Indian Scenario of Water Resources with Statistic:

India has 2.45 percent of the world’s landmass supporting 16 percent of the world’s population whereas the freshwater resources are only 4 percent of that of the world.

The average annual precipitation, including snowfall, received in the nation will be 4000 bcm. With the average water availability in the river systems of the country is evaluated at 1,869 bcm. The surface water that is usable is 690 bcm and also groundwater is 432 bcm. Thus usable water is approximately 1,122 bcm. There’s been a significant development of water resources since liberty. With significantly less than 293 large dams at the time of independence, the number of dams has grown to more than 4000 at the moment. This will offer a storage capacity of roughly 252 bcm against that less than 16 bcm during the time of liberty.

At the moment countries, irrigation potential is about 94 million hectares (m.ha) against 22.6 m.ha before the first five-year plan. During the commencement of the very first last-minute plan in 1951, the annual food grain production was just 51 million tonnes which at present is a lot more than 210 million tonnes. Out of 40 m.ha of this flood-prone area inside the country, roughly 1-5 m.ha has ever since been well shielded.

Due to this large variation of rain in space and time, some areas have significantly less per capita water availability. Arid and semi-permeable and regions of the country are prone to repeated drought states.

We must plan to get an equitable economic growth for all-round development and poverty alleviation, through efficient utilization and continued sustainable development of water resources with emphasis on humans involvement. This will enable India to emerge stronger in the 21stcentury.

Although irrigation will continue to be the significant consumer of water coming times, its share from the whole water use can reduce as the share of water use for industrial, domestic and energy purposes will rise because of urbanization and industrialization.

The need for water for other uses such as navigation, ecological and diversion, but not too significant concerning consumptive use, will be important and certainly will have specific quantity and temporal needs.

Consequently, long-term perspective planning sustainable development of water resources at a holistic and integrated manner, with emphasis on more productive uses is vital to accomplishing the goal of economic wealth.

Populations Food Grain Requirement

In India, the food grain availability is at present around 525 gms per capita each day whereas the corresponding figures in China & USA have been 980 gms and 2850 gms respectively. If small raise is made in a capita consumption to 650 gms that the food grain requirement will soon be about 390 MT of food grain. Considering the projections of roughly 1800 million by 2050 AD as moderate, it might require about 430 MT of food grain yearly in the present level of consumption. This will indicate a utilization of inputs. The first input signal is water, the 2nd input would be fertilizers and also third party enter would be the much larger accent of research. This might also need increasing area under irrigation by present 28% to roughly 40 percent by the year 2050 and adopting drip and sprinkler irrigation in India. The entire geographic area of property in India is 329 mha which is 2.45percent of the global land space. The entire arable land is 165.3 mha that’s roughly 50.2% of the total geographic area contrary to the corresponding global figure of 10.2 percent. India possesses 4 percent of the overall average runoff from the rivers of the world. The per capita water availability of pure runoff is at least 1100 cu.m per year. Water access to both surface and groundwater is further reduced due to water contamination and inappropriate waste disposal techniques. There are few nations or pond basins in India where water quality issues are not present. Environmental issues comprise water quality degradation by domestic and industrial pollution agro-chemicals, groundwater depletion, waterlogging, land salinization, siltation, degradation of wetlands, ecosystem effects and various issues. India isn’t, on the whole, a water-scarce land, though India is facing serious water limitations that are various to-day. The present per capita availability of water in India of approximately 2200 m3 yearly, actually compares quite favorably with numerous other nations.

Current water resource constraints in terms of both quantity and quality may be predicted to manifest themselves more rapidly in the coming years. With lower population and development degrees, there was still ample room for every single business to fulfill concerns and its own water requirements. As the gap between the availability of water resources and also the requirements on such resources, the last approach to water direction pursued in India is no more tenable. Competition for water between urban centers and agricultural businesses are going to be a challenge from the forthcoming century. Provision for environmental and environmental concerns will need to be made.

Water Resource Exploitation—Use and overuse:

India is rich in surface water resources. Average annual rainwater discharge into the river is about 1880 bcm, which is about 1/3rd of the total rainfall. Because of temporal and spatial variation of rain­fall pattern in the country, some part experience drought and while in other parts, there may be a severe flood at a time. Thus water resource man­agement will be a great challenge for India in fu­ture.

In India over 75% available fresh water is used in agricultural practices. Such a demand for agri­cultural irrigation needs to be reviewed and effi­cient irrigation planning, crop scheduling and use of wastewater irrigation in agriculture should be examined seriously.

Dam—Benefits and Conflicts:

Construction of “Dam” is one of the significant activities for water resource management in different parts of the world. For multipurpose water resource development like water resource storage flood irrigation and recreation for irrigation and community water source and for hydel power production, the creation of water fountains and dam from River Valley area is a major activity. For quite a long time, the creation of “Dam” symbolized as incorporated water resource enhancement planning components.


With the passing of time, it was accomplished that mega dam all around the world has negative impacts on the surroundings and human anatomy around. As a result, the anti-dam movement started against almost any project’s production. Several thousand of”Environmental Refugee” was created due to a number of high dam projects.


Water Sharing Conflict:

Sustained water supply in major rivers and its distributaries in dry months is a major concern which induces conflicts between two neighboring states or countries. Thus there were a number of international treaties made over the years on wa­ter sharing viz., India—Bhutan Cooperation, India-Bangladesh cooperation, India-Nepal coopera­tion and Waters treaty between India-Pakistan.

All these treaties involve the setting up of joint teams for hydrometeorological and flood forecast­ing network on rivers and also their water sharing issues. Periodically all the treaties were re-evaluated. Identically inter-state water sharing issues now come up very much in news headlines, due to dis­agreement on water discharge from various dams during dry months.

This problem is very serious in southern and north-western states. Central wa­ter commission (CWC), New Delhi is responsible for initiating coordination with the state govern­ments concerned, schemes for the control, con­servation, and utilization of water resources for the purpose of flood management, irrigation, naviga­tion and water power generation throughout the country.

There are also a number of tribunals for resolving inter-state water disputes:

(i) The Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal,

(ii) The Krishna-water Disputes Tribunal,

(iii) The Narmada water Dis­putes Tribunal,

(iv) The Ravi and Beas water Dis­putes Tribunal, and

(v) The Cauvery water Dis­putes Tribunal.


Now, Let us look at the standard of water accessible:

The quality of water is in poor condition. It’s affected by sewage discharge, run-off from agricultural fields and urban run-off, and discharge from businesses. Droughts and floods, in conjunction with the absence of education and awareness amongst users, impacts the quality of water in a terrific way.

2015’s World Bank estimates reveal that in India 28.1 percent of the deaths took place due to communicable diseases. These were associated with a lack of hygiene procedures and unsafe water. Included in these are infectious and parasitic diseases, nutritional deficiencies such as hepatitis and polyunsaturated, as well as respiratory infections.

The Alarming State of water quality is predicated on the fact that the lack of clean drinking water has put over 11.5 million people of India in a high risk of a bone threatening disorder, fluorosis. The ministry of health and family welfare has identified 19 states seriously influenced by high fluoride content in drinking water, and at least 10 states experiencing arsenic contamination causing Arsenicosis — a disorder which affects the lungs, skin, kidneys, and liver due to arsenic poisoning.

The water quality monitoring results obtained indicate that organic and bacterial contamination are continued to be critical in water bodies. This is because of discharge of domestic wastewater in kind from the metropolitan centers of the nation. The municipal corporations at large are not able to handle increasing the load of sewage flowing into water bodies. The water bodies do not have sufficient water to dilution. Therefore, pollution and the oxygen requirement is growing day by day. This is largely responsible for waterborne ailments.

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