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4. Water and Environment



The Indian economy and society face daunting challenges in the water sector. The demands of a rapidly industrialising economy and urbanising society come at a time when the potential for augmenting supply is limited, water tables are falling and water quality issues have increasingly come to the fore. As we drill deeper for water, our groundwater gets contaminated with fluoride and arsenic. Both our rivers and our groundwater are polluted by untreated effluents and sewage continuing to be dumped into them. Climate change poses  fresh challenges with its impacts on the hydrologic cycle. More extreme rates of precipitation and evapo-transpiration will exacerbate impacts of floods and droughts. It is no wonder then that conflicts across competing uses and users of water are growing by the day. XII Plan envisages a move away approach from engineering construction centric approach to multidisciplinary participatory approach and to bridge the gap between potential creation and utilization with prioritize investment in command area development and management programme. Also the XII Plan proposes to improve the water use efficiency by 20% in the irrigation sector.

Overview of the Sector from the 12th Plan

Sector Summary Download PDF

Sector Chapter on Agriculture from the Plan

Download PDF

Article from the Journal of Economic and Political weekly by Dr Mihir Shah, Member, Planning Commission.

Data on Rural Drinking Water Supply

Data on Rural Sanitation


Focus Areas

1. Reform of major and minor irrigation (MMI) projects

Did you know that nearly 80% of our water resources are consumed by irrigation? The 12th plan document outlines the different ways in which we can works towards better water use efficiency of irrigation projects. It calls for a move away from a narrowly engineering construction- centric approach to a more multidisciplinary, participatory management approach to our major and medium irrigation projects,with central emphasis on command area development.

Description of Dataset/Resource Source Reference
Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme Grant Releases State Wise Year Wise, Ministry of Water Resources
Accelerated Irrigation Benefit  Programme Grant Releases State Wise, Project Wise Year Wise, Ministry of Water Resources
Project Wise Potential Created (Physical Progress) under Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme, Ministry of Water Resources
List of the Completed Projects under Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme, Ministry of Water Resources
Financial Progress under the Command Area Development Programme, Ministry of Water Resources
Physical Progress under the Command Area Development Programme, Ministry of Water Resources
3rd Minor Irrigation Census

2. Groundwater: An Emerging Crisis

Groundwater accounts for nearly two-thirds (66%) of India’s irrigation and 80% of domestic water needs, thus the plan documents calls for a participatory approach to sustainable management of groundwater based on a new programme of aquifer mapping, as a prerequisite and a precursor to the National Groundwater Management Programme.

Further, the plan calls for launching a massive programme for watershed restoration and groundwater recharge by transforming Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) into our largest watershed programme.

Reforming the Central ground water board (CGWB) is also on the agenda of the 12th plan. For the first time, the environmental impact appraisal conducted by Ministry of Environment and Forests will need to include the impact on groundwater based on the inputs of the CGWB. Further, the plan proposes a new and imaginative way to break the groundwater energy nexus, without hurting the interests of the farmers. During the Twelfth Plan sustainable groundwater irrigation development will be promoted in 11 Eastern Sates including the seven North- Eastern States, in order to more fully realise the potential of this region.

Description of Dataset/Resource Source Reference
Dynamic Ground Water Resources of India (Annexure I Page No. 69)

3. Urban Water and Waste Management

The growth of cities and industries is inevitable and this growth will have massive implications on the use of water and discharge of waste. As far as management and supply of water is concerned, currently, it is estimated that as much as 40-50 per cent of the water is ‘lost’ in the distribution system! Even this is a guesstimate, as most cities do not have real accounts for the water that is actually supplied to consumers. The 12th Plan proposes that the water supply programme for each city must provide for demand management and reduction of the cost of supply.

Even as cities worry about water, they need to focus on the wastewater treatment for regeneration/ recycling. We have no official accounts for the excreta we generate or the excreta we treat or do not treat. The fact is that we have no way of really estimating the load of sewage in our cities, because of the different ways in which people source water and the different ways in which people dispose sewage. Large parts of the modern cities remain unconnected to the sewage system as they live in unauthorised or illegal areas or slums, where the state services do not reach. Just two cities, Delhi and Mumbai, which generate around 17 per cent of the country’s sewage, have nearly 40 per cent of the country’s installed capacity. For this the Plan proposes that each city must protect its local water body and No Water Scheme will be sanctioned without a Sewage Component, which joins the dots with pollution of rivers and waterways. The plan also proposes that the city needs to plan deliberately for recycling and reuse of treated wastewater.

Description of Dataset/Resource



Report of the Working Group on Urban and Industrial Water Supply and Sanitation for the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2012-2017).

4. Flood Management

The three kind of flood management strategies suggested in the 12th Plan involve- 1) Engineering/structural measures, including construction of reservoirs for impounding monsoon flow and its release after peak flows have passed (attenuation) and providing river embankments/flood walls; 2) Non-structural measures, including flood plain zoning, flood forecasting, flood warning and flood proofing; and 3) Catchment area treatment, including watershed management and restoring the health of natural drainages.

Description of Dataset/Resource



Report of the Working Group on Flood management and region specific issues for 12th Plan.

5. Integrated Watershed Management Programme

There are new guidelines to IWMP proposed by the Mihir Shah Committee. The guidelines are it has been decided to make the IWMP a five-year programme with a renewed focus on professionalism, capacity building, institutional building and a greater role for civil society. Further, based on the experience of a lot of states, a new framework is proposed for convergence of IWMP with allied programmes such as MGNREGA, National Rural Livelihood Mission.

Description of Dataset/Resource Source Reference
Data on Watershed Management

6. National water framework law (NWFL)

Water, like air, is one of the most basic requirements for life. If a national law is considered   necessary on subjects such as the environment, forests, wildlife, biological diversity, and so on, a national law on water is considered even more necessary. To this end, a Sub Group (as part of the Working Group on Water Governance) in the 12th Plan has drafted a National Water Framework Law. It is important to note that The proposed national water law is not intended to either centralise water management, or to change Centre-State relations or to alter the Constitutional position on water in any way. What is proposed is not a Central water management law or a command-and-control law, but a framework law, that is, an umbrella statement of general principles governing the exercise of legislative and/or executive (or devolved)powers by the Centre, the States and the local governance institutions.

Description of Dataset/Resource Source Reference
Working Group Report



The sector includes areas such as Environment, Forests and Wildlife. The principal activities undertaken consist of conservation and survey of flora, fauna, forests and Wildlife, prevention and control of pollution, forestation and regeneration of degraded areas and protection of environment, in the frame work of legislations. Adaptation and mitigation to Climate Change are also issues that dealt by this sector.

Overview of the sector from the 12th Plan
Sector Summary Download PDF File
Sector Chapter from the Plan Download PDF File


Focus Areas

1. Ensure Ecological Security for Sustainability thereby facilitating people’s participation to provide equity in access of natural resources

Managing challenges due to Climate Change for faster and equitable growth, providing for schemes and facilitating efforts for maintaining ecological stress due to over exploitation and developmental imperatives. Improving forest productivity, production and sustainable management of biodiversity (equity in access to benefit sharing with local people). Building capacity of Village Forest Committees/Joint Forestry Management Committees for management of forest resources to ensure enhanced livelihood options for people living in forest fringe areas.

Description of Dataset/Resource Source
Water Quality Data For River Ganga as a comparative study between 1986 and 2011 with parameters such as Dissolved Oxygen(DO) and Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD)
Hazardous Waste Contaminated Dump Sites

2. Greening India in the context of Climate Change

Responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures, which would help: enhance carbon sinks in sustainably managed forests and other ecosystems; support adaptation of vulnerable species/ecosystems to the changing climate; and adaptation of forest dependent local communities in the face of climatic variability. The new scheme Green India Mission, introduced in the 12th Plan, puts the "greening" in the context of climate change adaptation and mitigation, meant to enhance ecosystem services like carbon sequestration and storage (in forests and other ecosystems), hydrological services and biodiversity; along with provisioning services like fuel, fodder, small timber and NTFPs.

Description of Dataset/Resource Source
Total Forest Cover in India- The table shows Total Forest Cover w.r.t.  Total Geographic Area of the country. The table also specifies area in sq km for each forest type - Very Dense Forests, Moderately Dense and Open Dense Forests.
Total Tree Cover in India
Time series data for Mangrove Assessment and Mangrove Cover.The table also specifies area in sq km for each type - Very Dense Mangroves, Moderately Dense and Open Dense Mangroves  .

3. Conservation of Wildlife and Biodiversity

Protecting environment; conservation and survey of flora, fauna, and wildlife for an improved ecological balance.

Description of Dataset/Resource Source
1.  State-wise Status of Specifies identified from different surveys
2.   Protected Area Network Across The Country (2011-12) :  The table shows state-wise details of protected area network of the country, detailing number of national park, wild life sanctuary and conservation reserves.