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Saved Water Will Matter Later


As a result of glaciers melting quickly due to rising temperatures, the Ganga and Yamuna rivers’ very existence is in danger, and the flow of water from their sources is increasing at an accelerated rate.


GS Paper-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

Mains Question

There will be “water wars” between China and India as a result of China’s plans for water and the growing competition between the two nations over water. critically assess (150 words)

Major highlights

  • The cryosphere has shrunk significantly over the past few decades as a result of global warming, with mass loss from ice sheets and glaciers, decreases in snow cover and Arctic sea ice extent and thickness, and an increase in permafrost temperature.
  • The global mean sea level (GMSL) is rising; terrestrial and freshwater species and ecosystems have been impacted by cryospheric and related hydrological changes; coastal ecosystems are affected by ocean warming, including intensified marine heatwaves, acidification, loss of oxygen, sea level rise, and sea level rise, in addition to negative effects from human activities on ocean and land.
  • Affects on habitat area, biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and services have already been noted.

Indian Water Crisis

  • According to a report posted on, India’s northwest and south may experience a severe water crisis by 2025, and by 2050, the entire nation may be in this terrible plight.
    • India alone accounts for 17% of the global population, but it only has 4% of the global freshwater reserves to support such a sizable population.
    • China and the US combined use less groundwater than India does.
      • The Central Ground Water Board reports that 256 of the 700 districts in the nation use self-sustaining groundwater.
    • The Composite Water Management Index from the NITI Aayog estimates that 600 million people are impacted by the water issue.
    • The needs will more than double over the next eight years. Then, the question of how to satisfy this demand arises.

Lack of water and the Third World War

  • It was once predicted that a lack of water would result in the Third World War, the division of several nations, and a great deal of emigration.
    • As expected, the devastating effects of the nations’ exploitative development policies are now becoming apparent.
    • As a result of people leaving their homes in greater numbers, social unrest is occurring in many countries.

Case Study: India

  • The distribution of river water has caused disputes between numerous states
    • There is an ongoing dispute between the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry over the waters of rivers like the Krishna, Kaveri, and Narmada.
    • In addition, any river in the west and south affects two or more states, and the water from those rivers results in a variety of issues. Over the waters of the Krishna and Kaveri, there have been violent clashes in the southern states.

International Relations and Water

  • The Brahmaputra, Indus, and other rivers’ waters have strained India’s relations with its neighbours as a whole.
    • China’s efforts to dam the Brahmaputra and thereby cause a water crisis in the North East are a glaring example of this. China could weaponize water in the event of a war by damming the Brahmaputra. In many locations, it can be used to create deadly floods.
  • Similar concerns about the Indus river exist among Pakistanis.
    • Concerning the sharing of river water, India also has on-going disagreements with Bangladesh and Nepal.

Do You Know?

  • China recently accelerated the construction of a massive dam on the river Mabja Zangbo, which is across from the Kalapani region of Uttarakhand and about 16 km north of the tri-junction of India, Nepal, and Tibet.
  • Mount Kangrinboqe (also known as Mount Kailash) in Tibet is the source of the Mabja Zangbo river, which then travels through Nepal and into the Ghaghara river before joining the Ganga in India.
  • China also announced plans to build a hydropower dam with a height of 50 metres on the Great Bend of the Brahmaputra in Medog, Tibet, not far from the Indian border.
  • More than three times as much electricity as the Three Gorges Dam is anticipated to be produced by the dam, at 60 gigawatts per year.

What should be done?

  • Changing attitudes about water and increasing awareness must be a top priority.
    • Even today, many areas of the country waste a great deal of water while others experience drought-like conditions. Water is still seen as an infinite resource.
    • To change attitudes towards water, communication campaigns aimed at internal and external stakeholders will be essential.
    • A national consensus will need to be developed and support from all stakeholders, including state governments and citizens, must be obtained.
    • As a result, all integrated water management approaches would benefit from taking inspiration from the “Swachh Bharat Mission’s” successful behaviour change communication initiatives and attempting to build an army of grassroots water motivators similar to the swachhagrahis for sanitation.


  • One thing is certain: People are receiving warnings from nature.
    • As a result, every aspect of water use, including daily use, must be revolutionised.
    • People must learn to value each and every drop of water because it is necessary for survival.
    • The nation’s citizens and the government have a shared obligation to conserve water and help raise groundwater levels.
    • As a result, it is urgent to adopt creative methods for boosting groundwater levels through rainwater collection and artificial recharge, promoting water use efficiency, recycling, and reuse, and raising awareness through community involvement in the targeted areas, which will lead to the sustainable development of groundwater resources, adequate capacity building among the stakeholders, etc.
  • It is at this point that every citizen must take responsibility for conserving, managing, and enhancing their local water resources.

February 2024