1.1 Water is a prime natural resource, a basic human need and a precious national asset. Planning,
development and management of water resources need to be governed by national perspectives.
1.2 As per the latest assessment (1993), out of the total precipitation, including snowfall, of around
4000 billion cubic metre in the country, the availability from surface water and replenishable ground water
is put at 1869 billion cubic metre. Because of topographical and other constraints, about 60% of this i.e. 690
billion cubic metre from surface water and 432 billion cubic metre from ground water, can be put to
beneficial use. Availability of water is highly uneven in both space and time. Precipitation is confined to
only about three or four months in a year and varies from 100 mm in the western parts of Rajasthan to over
10000 mm at Cherrapunji in Meghalaya. Rivers and under ground aquifers often cut across state boundaries.
Water, as a resource is one and indivisible: rainfall, river waters, surface ponds and lakes and ground water
are all part of one system.
1.3 Water is part of a larger ecological system. Realising the importance and scarcity attached to the
fresh water, it has to be treated as an essential environment for sustaining all life forms.
1.4 Water is a scarce and precious national resource to be planned, developed, conserved and managed
as such, and on an integrated and environmentally sound basis, keeping in view the socio-economic aspects
and needs of the States. It is one of the most crucial elements in developmental planning. As the country has
entered the 21st century, efforts to develop, conserve, utilise and manage this important resource in a
sustainable manner, have to be guided by the national perspective.
1.5 Floods and droughts affect vast areas of the country, transcending state boundaries. One-sixth area
of the country is drought-prone. Out of 40 million hectare of the flood prone area in the country, on an
average, floods affect an area of around 7.5 million hectare per year. Approach to management of droughts
and floods has to be co-ordinated and guided at the national level.
1.6 Planning and implementation of water resources projects involve a number of socio-economic
aspects and issues such as environmental sustainability, appropriate resettlement and rehabilitation of
project-affected people and livestock, public health concerns of water impoundment, dam safety etc.
Common approaches and guidelines are necessary on these matters. Moreover, certain problems and
weaknesses have affected a large number of water resources projects all over the country. There have been
substantial time and cost overruns on projects. Problems of water logging and soil salinity have emerged in
some irrigation commands, leading to the degradation of agricultural land. Complex issues of equity and
social justice in regard to water distribution are required to be addressed. The development, and overexploitation
of groundwater resources in certain parts of the country have raised the concern and need for
judicious and scientific resource management and conservation. All these concerns need to be addressed on
the basis of common policies and strategies.
1.7 Growth process and the expansion of economic activities inevitably lead to increasing demands for
water for diverse purposes: domestic, industrial, agricultural, hydro-power, thermal-power, navigation,
recreation, etc. So far, the major consumptive use of water has been for irrigation. While the gross
irrigation potential is estimated to have increased from 19.5 million hectare at the time of independence to
about 95 million hectare by the end of the Year 1999-2000, further development of a substantial order is
necessary if the food and fiber needs of our growing population are to be met with. The country’s
population which is over 1027 million (2001 AD) at present is expected to reach a level of around 1390
million by 2025 AD.
Ministry of Water Resources 2 April 1, 2002
1.8 Production of food grains has increased from around 50 million tonnes in the fifties to about 208
million tonnes in the Year 1999-2000. This will have to be raised to around 350 million tonnes by the year
2025 AD. The drinking water ne