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Stats IQ: The Distribution and Utilisation of Water Bodies in India

Context: The Ministry of Jal Shakti has launched the first census of water bodies in India, which throws light on the number of water bodies in the countries.

Defining water bodies

  • The document designates water body as any natural or man-made structure used for storing water for various purposes, such as irrigation, industry, fish farming, domestic use, recreation, religious activities, and groundwater recharge
  • Any structure that collects and stores water from melting ice, streams, springs, rain, or drainage from residential or other areas, or stores water diverted from a stream, nala, or river, is also considered a water body.

Categories of water bodies

  • Ponds comprise 59.5%
  • Tanks at 15.7%
  • Reservoirs at 12.1%
  • Water conservation projects such as percolation tanks and check dams at 9.3%
  • Lakes at 0.9%
  • Other types at 2.5%

State-wise distribution of water bodies

  • West Bengal has the highest number of ponds and reservoirs.
  • Andhra Pradesh hosts highest number of tanks.
  • Tamil Nadu has the highest number of lakes.
  • Maharashtra is leading in terms of water conservation initiatives.

Usage pattern of water bodies

  • The majority of them are used for fish farming, with other uses being irrigation, replenishing groundwater, and providing water for household and drinking needs.
    • About 55.5% are dedicated to fish farming
    • 16.5% to irrigation
    • 12.1% to groundwater replenishment
    • 10.1% to domestic and drinking water needs
    • Remaining is used for recreational, industrial, religious and other purposes.

State-wise pattern of usage

  • 50% of the water bodies are used for fish farming in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tripura, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Assam and the eastern States of West Bengal and Odisha.
  • Over 50% of the water bodies are used for irrigation in Gujarat, Telangana, Karnataka and Jharkhand.
  • More than 50% are used for drinking in Manipur and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Over 10% of the water bodies in Sikkim are used for recreational purposes.
  • Over 50% of the water bodies in Uttarakhand, Punjab and Maharashtra are used for groundwater recharge.
  • Industrial usage of water bodies is minimal in all the States.

Urban and rural distribution

  • Over 97.1% of water bodies can be found in rural regions while only 2.9% are located in urban areas.


  • Use: About 83.7% of water bodies are currently in use, while the rest are unused due to factors such as construction, siltation, irreparable damage, and industrial effluents.
  • Encroachment: A total of 1.6% water bodies have been encroached upon, of which 67.6% are ponds, 21% are tanks, and 4.5% involve water conservation schemes, check dams, or percolation tanks.
  • Ownership: Out of the total water bodies, 55.2% are privately owned; the rest are publicly owned.

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