Exploring the Economic and Social Consequences of Water Scarcity in India

Water scarcity is a major problem in India, apart from rural areas the big metropolitan cities also face the problem of less availability of water.

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India is home to the 18 percent population of the world but has only 4 percent of the world’s fresh water resources, making the water stress of our country as one of the highest in the world. 

Most of India is mainly dependent on rainfall season for quenching the need of water but due to Climate Change, the annual and monsoon rainfall season of India remains very disturbed. As irrigation is an chief source of livelihood in most parts of India, the scarcity of water breaks the soul of our Agro-Economic country. 

Recently, Chennai faced a huge water crisis in India when 4 of its main water reservoirs completely went dry, this dire shortage of water affected lots of people badly, hotels and restaurants were shut, offices asked their staff to work from home, and people had to stand in long queues to get water from tanks.

In response, the government of India had to supply millions of liters of water in special trains to combat the shortage. The same is the fate of other metropolitan cities of India also; Delhi and Mumbai always suffer from the problem of less water supply, in many parts water comes for a very less period of time and in some places it comes for only one time in a day.

Though the problem of urban cities looks big, it doesn’t even stand next to those problems which are faced by people living in villages and other parts of rural India. Villagers have to travel for a distance of tens of kilometers to get water for their homes. They do not have any sort of water supply like taps, handpumps, tubewells etc. They are either dependent on the government for water or travel as told. 

The Social Impact 

According to researchers more than 60% of women living in rural parts of water scarcity hit states like Rajasthan spend almost half of their life in collecting water, adding an inhumane burden on their life and creating a negative social difference between men and women. People living in these locations suffer from malnutrition, and other health problems. The life expectancy of these people are way less than those living in the places where water is in excess. 

The water problems create social differences between rural and urban class as reports reveal that 52 percent of urban houses have access to water as compared to only that of 18 percent in rural homes.

The scarcity often triggers massive migrations and sparks conflicts. When these  conflicts increase, they become the breeding ground of politics. We have already seen issues of Punjab and Haryana in our life. 

According to the World Bank, 163 million Indians lack access to safe drinking water, 210 million Indians lack improved sanitation, 21% of communicable diseases are linked to unsafe water, 500 children under the age of five die from diarrhea each day in India. All these trends affect the social background of India and throw Indian society into remorse. 

The Economical Impact 

The new World Bank report finds that water scarcity could hinder economic growth, and has adverse impacts on livelihoods, businesses and mainly on the agriculture sector. The report also cited that the shortage of water could reduce the GDP of a particular country by 6 percent.

The less water we will have the less crop production our country will see, shattering our economy. Water is also used as a coolant in many industries, as an ingredient in beverage industries, and also for generating hydro-electricity. With the depletion of water all these industries will suffer abruptly causing devastating impact on finance. 

The total water demand in India is expected to rise by 70% till 2025, and hence a huge demand-supply gap is being expected in India’s future. If the water scarcity continues, our industries will be reduced to ashes.

The scarcity of water also creates gender inequality which plays a role in halting in India’s economy. As previously mentioned that women spend approx 150 million days collecting water this results in loss of an estimated INR 10 Billion. 


It is very important for us to combat water scarcity otherwise our cities, our society and all the things we cherish will become history. Our entire ecosystem will get eradicated and we will have no other option other than migration. 

A better infrastructure, advanced irrigation practices and our awareness towards the environment will help us achieve the milestone of no water shortage problem. 




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