THE DAY ZERO: Water Crisis in India

THE DAY ZERO: Water Crisis in India
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Team CEV had a group discussion on “WATER CRISIS” on 6 Aug 2019.

Let us begin with the question very less addressed, “does debate or GD of any kind ranging from the news channel debates to the general public discussion actually lead us anywhere?”.

Introverts might say certainly nowhere!

Even those who actively participate in the debate have a fuzzy view that whether it would lead them to a practical conclusion. For TV anchors with radiant communicating character, it might be a source of income, for the general public it might be a casual routine just for the sake of time-pass, for a student chapter it might be an activity for improving comm. skills. 

Being a pro-debate enthusiast if you got annoyed by the statement that debate rarely leads us somewhere than pick up any worldwide issue and just find out debates and discussion on that topic, you can list a thousand. At the same time, concerned problems remain as it is, for example- global warming, poverty, malnutrition, and crimes, etc. 

But before we arrive at the conclusion that debates are worthless, just wonder for a while over what led to the rapid success of NASA in space in the late 1960s. Of course, it was due to motivated men and women of the organisation. Do those folks got their motivation by watching motivational videos of speakers like Mr. Sandeep Maheswari on youtube. Might be, but not wholly. The real fuel was those instants when individuals got dreams in their head while listening to the people around them applauding the astronauts and scientist, they watched TV science shows and reports which ignited in them a fire, which later the world watched!          

In those days the scientist were heroes and they gave public lectures at scale in which we attend concerts these days. 

So there is no doubt that science discussion are cradle for scientific motivation and temper as well as for future cutting edge technologies.


Because it is the most critical and wide-spread issue citizens are facing pan India.  

Realizing the danger:

1. As per the report of NITI Aayog, 600 million Indians faced extreme water stress and about 2,00,000 people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water. 

THE DAY ZERO: Water Crisis in India

2. Twenty-one cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad will run out of groundwater by 2020. While currently 12% of the population already lives in “DAY ZERO” scenario. 

THE DAY ZERO: Water Crisis in India

3. The present condition of the villages is poorer. Villages in India are grappling with a severe drinking water crisis, with no water left in 35 major dams. 

THE DAY ZERO: Water Crisis in India

4. The Groundwater which is source of 40% of India’s water needs, depleting at a rapid rate.    

5. It really puts question mark when we hear the news that “the wettest place on earth ‘Cherapunji’ suffers a water shortage”, one of the greatest irony of the 21st century.



CEV members finally classified the major reasons behind India being thirsty into three categories:


Well, there is no doubt that we are very ignorant while using water. And if you see the statistics then you would feel that “ignorance” fails too short as a word to address us.

1. Study says India waste 30-40% of the water through leaking pipes. Kolkata stands apart with 50% wastage and cities like Coimbatore, Mumbai, and Delhi are doing quite good with 40, 25 and 18% wastage.

2. The efficiency of irrigation and that too with fresh ground-water is about 35%. We need to think why a country which boasts of producing greatest intellectuals in world drain about 80% of household water to the sea and small war-affected countries like Israel reuses 90% of domestic water.

THE DAY ZERO: Water Crisis in India

Being the largest sector in water utilization, improving the efficiency in irrigation is the most promising way to cut down the use of water significantly.

3. How many of us would close tap if we see it open in surroundings, how many of us empty the half-filled bottle to fill it again, how many of us use showers than buckets for bathing, how many of us tap water from ACs and ROs, how many of us have rain-water harvesting at home and finally how many us play holi with water. Answer to all these questions clearly indicated we aren’t serious about the water crisis, and we feel the extreme ownership of water just because we paid for it.


  1. Water is a renewable source and also it doesn’t get evaporated from the earth and escape to the vast space then why the hell is this water problem. With 7500 Km of coastline we have access to nearly limitless water supply from oceans, why don’t we use that? Salty ocean water is not potable for common use and is made available by nature through rains. If we try to mimic it by using current highly energy-intensive processes like desalination than our country will be like burning all of its coal for processing ocean water.



1. Just after a speedy recovery from the devastating floods of August 2018 Kerala set for a severe drought in June 2019. 

THE DAY ZERO: Water Crisis in India

Through this phenomenon, we can understand the impact of climate change on the availability of water in the shortest observation period. We don’t need to turn a research paper to know that climate change can impact the water cycle in ways that can lead to the destruction of all lifeforms.

2. Glaciers are rapidly melting turning the freshwater to salty ocean water and flooding the coastal regions.

3. Eutrophication and Algal bloom: Many of you would have seen an abandoned green layered lake or pond near your locality. That source of freshwater turned into a toxic pond due to an exponential growth of harmful algae, as the fertilizers from crop field sweep to that pond. Sometimes the effect is so enlarged that whole river or part of sea becomes a trap, like the Arabian sea. 

THE DAY ZERO: Water Crisis in India



1. India ranks highest in the world in terms of siping groundwater, and not marginally by competitors. The second and third ranker combined fails to sip water as much as India. 

“This kind of use has caused a reduction in groundwater levels in India by 61 percent between 2007 and 2017, according to a report by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), presented in the Lok Sabha last year.”

We are not stopping here, it is so unfortunate when our dear elected ministers pass the bill to build borewell in numbers as that of stars in the night sky. “The Bihar government announced to give water to every village. For that, they started building borewell across the state which led to the depleting amount of water table. As per the survey, there is 355 boring only in Patna & that’s also of govt.” 

2. Then where should we get water from? According to 2018 report of Central water commission, India requirement of water is 3000 BCM (billion cubic meters) of water a year. Though irregularly but rain brings down 4000 BCM of water a year. Being among the most inefficient countries, we hardly capture 10-15% of rainwater, the rest of which flow into the salty sea with the lives of hundreds in it.

“As we know every year, in Mumbai there is around 7.1-inch rain per month. Whole Mumbai becomes an island in monsoon season still we didn’t have tried to make proper drainage system. A solution to this problem can help the water-deficit region of Maharashtra.”

THE DAY ZERO: Water Crisis in India

3. People who have illegally occupied natural water catchment areas like ponds and lakes are now afraid of storing rain-water underground because they think water will wear out their foundations, what a tragedy.


  • Many countries have started working on a solution for this. If we talk about China, China officially announced to construct FOREST CITY in Liuzhou. It is created to fight pollution.
  • We can start using greywater for the flush. RO system waste around 2/3 of water that can be used for dish or clothes washing.
  • Vacuum flush can be created so there will be less need for water at all for the flush.
  • IIT Gandhinagar has been saving nearly 3 lakh litre water per day. And it has been doing this since 2015. It’s because of the institute’s initiative to have a sustainable campus, a sewage treatment plant installed in 2015 allows it to use recycled water to maintain green cover on the campus.  IIT-Gn has also developed a rainwater harvesting system for the purpose of conserving drinking water.
  • WRC Global Blockchain Hackathon was held in Maharashtra. This event Challenge participants to create an innovative application using blockchain, AI & IoT technologies to help solve the world’s growing water challenges. The participants had designed a program using IoT meter that first, they will analyse the data of polluted water produced by each industry. IoT meter will give an amount or rate of that polluted water. All data will store in blockchain so no one can change it. Now we will make an index of industries which produce most polluted water & how much they recycle it. Now they all be given a rank.



Unlike shortage of fossil fuel like coal and petroleum, the water crisis doesn’t demand so much rigorous technical research for alternate solutions, rather we just lack efficient management of water resources.

People in India are so obsessed with development figures that basic needs have no significance to them. They may be a fan of their defense ministers but they even don’t know the name of their water minister.

THE DAY ZERO: Water Crisis in India

We take proud of being a nuclear weapon state but the fact to be among the most inefficient nation in management of valuable resources like water and even air goes in one ear and comes out from another.

We extracted a lesson from thirsty crow story to be hard-working in life but we never thought why the crow threw pebbles instead of drilling a hole in that earthen pot.

India has to opt to be smart at water management by developing closed-loop system instead of age-old more demand – more supply approach. Enough attention must be given to behavioral change.

In the end, we will conclude by one simple equation:

Indian Water Crisis = Mismanagement + Ignorance + Climate Change. 


Some extra reading materials:

  1. Indian Water sector:
  2. Rainwater harvesting:
  3. Miracle Israel:
  4. NITI Aayog report:

GD Minutes prepared by Trith Anand, Sawai Rajpurohit and edited by Rahul.

Keep reading, keep learning

Team CEV!

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