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TRADITIONAL WATER HARVESTING METHODS – THEIR ROLE 
AND SCOPE IN CORRECTING INDIAN WATER SECTOR Part I 
Vivek P. Kapadia 
Email : vivekpkapadia@gmail.com 
Presented at One Day Woirkshop on Water Conservation 
organised by 
The Institution of Engineers (India), Gujarat State Center, Ahmedabad
DEDICATED TO 
WATER MANAGEMENT FORUM 
THE INSTITUTION OF ENGINEERS (INDIA) 
2
FRESH WATER IS REALLY SCARCE 
3
HYDROLOGY : AN OVERVIEW 
Distribution of Type of Water on 
4 
Earth 
Sea Water 
97% 
Non-salty 
Water 
3%
Distribution of Non-salty Water 
Snow at 
Poles 
79% 
5 
Surface 
Water 
1% 
Ground 
Water 
20%
Distribution of Surface water 
Rivers 
1% Moisture 
6 
Moisture 
in Air 
(Humidity) 
8% 
Tanks and 
Reservoirs 
53% 
in Soil 
38%
INDIA IS A WATER STRESSED 
7 
COUNTRY
WATER RESOURCES OF INDIA 
• Against estimated annual precipitation of about 4,000 Billion 
Cubic Meters (BCM) including snow fall, India’s total annual 
renewable fresh water resources are estimated at 1953 BCM. 
• In 1901 India’s per capita water availability was 4555 cubic 
meters per year - decreasing from 3008 cu.m. in 1951 to 1981 
cu.m. in 1971 to 1283 cu.m. by the year 1991 - with India’s 
projected population of 1146 millions, 1333 millions and 1581 
millions by the year 2010, 2025 and 2050, the per capital water 
availability (AWR) will be 943 cu.m., 814 cu.m. and 686 cu.m. 
respectively. 
8
WATER RESOURCES OF INDIA 
• According to the leading Swedish expert, Dr. Malin 
Falkenmark, the ‘annual water resources per capita’ (AWR) of 
1,700 m3 means that only occasional and local stress may be 
experienced; an AWR of less than 1000 m3 indicates a condition 
of stress and the AWR of 500 m3 or less means a serious 
constraint and a threat to life 
• Although, India’s population is about 17% of global population, 
its rivers possess just 4% of the total average annual run-off in 
the rivers of the world. China has 22% of the global population 
but has 8% of world’s water resource. 
9
WATER RESOURCES OF INDIA 
10
WATER RESOURCES OF INDIA 
11 
Sl. 
No. 
Name of the River Basin Average annual 
availability in Cubic 
Km per Year 
1. Indus (up to Border) 73.31 
2. a) Ganga 525.02 
b) Brahmaputra, Barak & Others 585.60 
3. Godavari 110.54 
4. Krishna 78.12 
5. Cauvery 21.36 
6. Pennar 6.32 
7. East Flowing Rivers Between Mahanadi & Pennar 22.52 
8. East Flowing Rivers Between Pennar and Kanyakumari 16.46 
9. Mahanadi 66.88 
10. Brahmani & Baitarni 28.48 
11. Subernarekha 12.37 
12. Sabarmati 3.81 
13. Mahi 11.02 
14. West Flowing Rivers of Kutch, Sabarmati including Luni 15.10 
15. Narmada 45.64 
16. Tapi 14.88 
17. West Flowing Rivers from Tapi to Tadri 87.41 
18. West Flowing Rivers from Tadri to Kanyakumari 113.53 
19. Area of Inland drainage in Rajasthan desert NEG. 
20. Minor River Basins Draining into & 31.00 
Total 1869.35
LAND RESOURCES OF INDIA 
12 
Geographical Area 328.73 
Forest 67.8 
Not available for cultivation 41.56 
Other uncultivated land 28.36 
Fallow Land 24.10 
Net area sown 142.02 
Million hectare 
It is estimated that about 174 million hectares of land (53%) suffers from different 
types and varying degrees of degradation. About 800 hectare of arable land are lost 
annually due to ingress of ravines.
IRRIGATION POTENTIAL 
Plan-wise irrigation potential through various irrigation projects 
13 
Plan Period Potential (cumulative) 
created (Mha) 
Potential (cumulative) 
utilised (Mha) 
Pre-Plan period 22.60 22.60 
First Plan (1951-56) 26.26 25.04 
Second Plan (1956-61) 29.08 27.80 
Third Plan (1961-66) 33.57 32.17 
Annual Plans (1966-69) 37.10 35.75 
Fourth Plan (1969-74) 44.20 42.19 
Fifth Plan (1974-78) 52.02 48.46 
Annual Plans (1978-80) 56.61 52.64 
Sixth Plan (1980-85) 65.22 58.82 
Seventh Plan (1985-90) 76.53 68.59 
Annual Plans (1990-92) 81.09 72.86 
Eighth Plan (1992-97) 86.26 77.24 
Ninth Plan (1997-2002) 93.95 80.06 
Tenth Plan (upto 2004-05) 98.84 83.56
NATURAL VARIATIONS 
14
NATURAL VARIATIONS 
15
NATURAL VARIATIONS 
16
NATURAL VARIATIONS 
17
NATURAL VARIATIONS 
18
Usable water is really scarce – diverting river water can not address the needs – 
dams constructed on all rivers but all agriculturable land can not be irrigated 
Concentrated approach – large reservoir based – can address needs of only a part 
of agriculturable land – the remaining land needs to be addressed which is larger 
than the irrigated by large reservoirs 
Other issues of large reservoir based irrigation systems – waterlogging, riparian 
rights, environmental aspects, etc. worth considering 
Need to understand the need of addressing the need of agriculturable land not 
served by large reservoirs – depending only on groundwater not sufficient 
19

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Traditional methods of water conservation in India: Part 1

  • 1. TRADITIONAL WATER HARVESTING METHODS – THEIR ROLE AND SCOPE IN CORRECTING INDIAN WATER SECTOR Part I Vivek P. Kapadia Email : vivekpkapadia@gmail.com Presented at One Day Woirkshop on Water Conservation organised by The Institution of Engineers (India), Gujarat State Center, Ahmedabad
  • 2. DEDICATED TO WATER MANAGEMENT FORUM THE INSTITUTION OF ENGINEERS (INDIA) 2
  • 3. FRESH WATER IS REALLY SCARCE 3
  • 4. HYDROLOGY : AN OVERVIEW Distribution of Type of Water on 4 Earth Sea Water 97% Non-salty Water 3%
  • 5. Distribution of Non-salty Water Snow at Poles 79% 5 Surface Water 1% Ground Water 20%
  • 6. Distribution of Surface water Rivers 1% Moisture 6 Moisture in Air (Humidity) 8% Tanks and Reservoirs 53% in Soil 38%
  • 7. INDIA IS A WATER STRESSED 7 COUNTRY
  • 8. WATER RESOURCES OF INDIA • Against estimated annual precipitation of about 4,000 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) including snow fall, India’s total annual renewable fresh water resources are estimated at 1953 BCM. • In 1901 India’s per capita water availability was 4555 cubic meters per year - decreasing from 3008 cu.m. in 1951 to 1981 cu.m. in 1971 to 1283 cu.m. by the year 1991 - with India’s projected population of 1146 millions, 1333 millions and 1581 millions by the year 2010, 2025 and 2050, the per capital water availability (AWR) will be 943 cu.m., 814 cu.m. and 686 cu.m. respectively. 8
  • 9. WATER RESOURCES OF INDIA • According to the leading Swedish expert, Dr. Malin Falkenmark, the ‘annual water resources per capita’ (AWR) of 1,700 m3 means that only occasional and local stress may be experienced; an AWR of less than 1000 m3 indicates a condition of stress and the AWR of 500 m3 or less means a serious constraint and a threat to life • Although, India’s population is about 17% of global population, its rivers possess just 4% of the total average annual run-off in the rivers of the world. China has 22% of the global population but has 8% of world’s water resource. 9
  • 10. WATER RESOURCES OF INDIA 10
  • 11. WATER RESOURCES OF INDIA 11 Sl. No. Name of the River Basin Average annual availability in Cubic Km per Year 1. Indus (up to Border) 73.31 2. a) Ganga 525.02 b) Brahmaputra, Barak & Others 585.60 3. Godavari 110.54 4. Krishna 78.12 5. Cauvery 21.36 6. Pennar 6.32 7. East Flowing Rivers Between Mahanadi & Pennar 22.52 8. East Flowing Rivers Between Pennar and Kanyakumari 16.46 9. Mahanadi 66.88 10. Brahmani & Baitarni 28.48 11. Subernarekha 12.37 12. Sabarmati 3.81 13. Mahi 11.02 14. West Flowing Rivers of Kutch, Sabarmati including Luni 15.10 15. Narmada 45.64 16. Tapi 14.88 17. West Flowing Rivers from Tapi to Tadri 87.41 18. West Flowing Rivers from Tadri to Kanyakumari 113.53 19. Area of Inland drainage in Rajasthan desert NEG. 20. Minor River Basins Draining into & 31.00 Total 1869.35
  • 12. LAND RESOURCES OF INDIA 12 Geographical Area 328.73 Forest 67.8 Not available for cultivation 41.56 Other uncultivated land 28.36 Fallow Land 24.10 Net area sown 142.02 Million hectare It is estimated that about 174 million hectares of land (53%) suffers from different types and varying degrees of degradation. About 800 hectare of arable land are lost annually due to ingress of ravines.
  • 13. IRRIGATION POTENTIAL Plan-wise irrigation potential through various irrigation projects 13 Plan Period Potential (cumulative) created (Mha) Potential (cumulative) utilised (Mha) Pre-Plan period 22.60 22.60 First Plan (1951-56) 26.26 25.04 Second Plan (1956-61) 29.08 27.80 Third Plan (1961-66) 33.57 32.17 Annual Plans (1966-69) 37.10 35.75 Fourth Plan (1969-74) 44.20 42.19 Fifth Plan (1974-78) 52.02 48.46 Annual Plans (1978-80) 56.61 52.64 Sixth Plan (1980-85) 65.22 58.82 Seventh Plan (1985-90) 76.53 68.59 Annual Plans (1990-92) 81.09 72.86 Eighth Plan (1992-97) 86.26 77.24 Ninth Plan (1997-2002) 93.95 80.06 Tenth Plan (upto 2004-05) 98.84 83.56
  • 19. Usable water is really scarce – diverting river water can not address the needs – dams constructed on all rivers but all agriculturable land can not be irrigated Concentrated approach – large reservoir based – can address needs of only a part of agriculturable land – the remaining land needs to be addressed which is larger than the irrigated by large reservoirs Other issues of large reservoir based irrigation systems – waterlogging, riparian rights, environmental aspects, etc. worth considering Need to understand the need of addressing the need of agriculturable land not served by large reservoirs – depending only on groundwater not sufficient 19