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This is a series of policy briefs by TERI based on its research work in specific areas. These briefs are being made available to members of parliament, policy-makers, regulators, sectoral experts, civil society and the media. The purpose is to focus on key issues and list our policy recommendations to encourage wider discussion and debate. Your comments and suggestions will be of immense value.

October 2014

Discussion Paper : Perspectives on a Water Resource Policy for India

India sustains nearly 17 per cent of the world's population but is endowed with just four per cent of global water resources. About 50 per cent of annual precipitation is received in just about 15 days in a year, which is not being brought to productive use due to limited storage capacity of 36 per cent of utilizable resources (252 BCM out of 690 BCM). Leakage and inefficiencies in the water supply system waste nearly 50 per cent of usable water. The ground water level is declining at the rate of 10 cm per year. Over 70 per cent of surface water and ground water resources are contaminated. All this is leading towards a water scarce situation in many parts of the country.

India has undertaken considerable investments for infrastructure development of large dams, storage structures, and canal networks to meet the country's water and agricultural needs, particularly in support of technology-based interventions to improve production of food grains, pulses, oilseeds, and vegetables. This is evident from the huge increase in budgetary allocation from the 11th Five-Year Plan compared to the 12th Five-Year Plan in irrigation including Watershed Development (from Rs 243,497 crore to Rs 504,371 crore) and Drinking Water and Sanitation sector (from Rs 120,774 crore to Rs 254,952 crore). This step has helped in achieving food and water security to a large extent, but in many areas of less plentiful surface water, the increasing use of water in agriculture and a growing population has led to higher and potentially unsustainable extraction of ground water for irrigation and domestic needs.

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