First waterbodies census

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Context:  As a step towards making policies for the judicious use and conservation of water, the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of water resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has taken the “first census of water bodies(2018-2019)” under the centrally sponsored scheme, “Irrigation Census”  in convergence with the 6th Minor Irrigation Census for 2017-18.

  • 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 encroachment, use, storage capacity etc 

What is waterbody?

  • The census defines a waterbody as “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 
  • Example industrial, pisciculture, domestic/drinking, recreation, religious, ground water recharge etc
  • Waterbodies are usually of various types known by different names like tank, reservoirs, ponds and bundhies 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 waterbody.

Highlights of the first census of waterbodies 

India has 24.24 lakh waterbodies like ponds, tanks and lakes, with West Bengal accounting for the most (7.47 lakh) and Sikkim the least (134)

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  • Out of total number of waterbodies-  97.1% (23,55,055) are in rural areas and only 2.9% (69,485) in urban areas.
  • 59.5 per cent (14,42,993) of waterbodies are ponds, followed by tanks (15.7 per cent i.e. 3,81,805), reservoirs (12.1 per cent i.e. 2,92,280), water conservation schemes/percolation tanks/check dams (9.3% i.e. 2,26,217), lakes (0.9% i.e. 22,361) and others (2.5% i.e. 58,884)”.
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  • West Bengal has the highest number of ponds and reservoirs, whereas Andhra Pradesh has highest number of tanks. Tamil Nadu has the highest number of lakes and Maharashtra is the leading state with water conservation schemes.
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  • West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas has been ranked as the top district having the highest (3.55 lakh) number of waterbodies across the country. In addition to West Bengal, six other states have over one lakh waterbodies, while four states and UTs account for less than 1,000 waterbodies each.
  • The census also collected data on encroachment of waterbodies for the first time. 1.6% waterbodies out of all the enumerated waterbodies are reported to be encroached, out of which 95.4% are in rural areas and remaining 4.6% in urban areas. 
  • 55.2% (13,38,735) water bodies are under private ownership whereas 44.8% (10,85,805) water bodies are in the public domain 
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