About the census
- It is a comprehensive database of ponds, tanks, lakes, and reservoirs in the country.
- The census was conducted in 2018-19, and enumerated more than 2.4 million water bodies across all states and Union Territories.
- The objective of the Census of Water Bodies is to develop a national database for all water bodies by collecting information on all important aspects of the subject including their size, condition, status of encroachments, use, storage capacity, status of filling up of storage etc.
Definition of water body.
- All natural or man-made units bounded on all sides with some or no masonry work used for storing water for irrigation or other purposes (e.g. industrial, pisciculture, domestic/drinking, recreation, religious, ground water recharge etc.) will be treated as water bodies in this Census.
- These are usually of various types known by different names like tank, reservoirs, ponds etc.
- A structure where water from ice-melt, streams, springs, rain or drainage of water from residential or other areas is accumulated or water is stored by diversion from a stream, nala or river will also be treated as water body.
Highlights of the census
- As per the report, 24,24,540 water bodies have been enumerated in the country, out of which 97.1% (23,55,055) are in rural areas and only 2.9% (69,485) are in urban areas.
- It was found that 59.5% of water bodies are ponds, followed by tanks (15.7%) reservoirs (12.1%), Water conservation schemes/percolation tanks/check dams (9.3%), lakes (0.9%) and others (2.5%, i.e 58,884).
- Maharashtra is the leading state for water conservation schemes.
- West Bengal has highest number of ponds & reservoirs.
- Andhra Pradesh has highest number of tanks.
- Tamil Nadu has highest number of lakes.
- The census also collected data on the encroachment of waterbodies for the first time, revealing that 1.6% of all enumerated waterbodies are encroached, with 95.4% of encroachments in rural areas and the remaining 4.6% in urban areas.
Significance of the census
- The census is essential to assess where freshwater resources exist, how they are used, and how climate, technology, policy, and people can play important role in conservation/ restoration.
- The census has highlighted the disparities between rural and urban areas and issues related with varying levels of encroachment.
- This census will aid in laying down policy guideline and programmes for the development, conservation and management of water as a national resource.
Why in news?
- The Ministry of Jal Shakti recently released the report on India’s first waterbody census, revealing crucial insights into the country’s water resources.