Bengal tops list of States with most ponds and reservoirs: first-ever waterbody census

Source: The post is based on the article “Bengal tops list of States with most ponds and reservoirs: first-ever waterbody census” published in Indian Express on 22nd April 2023

What is the News?

The Ministry of Jal Shakti has released the report of the first census of water bodies.

What is the Census of Water Bodies?

Objective: To develop a national database for all water bodies by collecting information on all important aspects of the subject including their size, condition, the status of encroachments, use, storage capacity, the status of filling up of storage etc.

Definition: 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, groundwater recharge etc).

The water bodies census was conducted along with the 6th Minor Irrigation Census for 2017-18. 

What are the key findings of the Census of Water Bodies?

Census of Water Bodies
Source: Indian Express

Waterbodies: India has 24.24 lakh water bodies like ponds, tanks and lakes.

– West Bengal accounts for most of the water bodies and Sikkim the least.

– West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas has been ranked as the top district having the highest (3.55 lakh) number of water bodies across the country.

Classification of waterbodies: Around 59.55% of water bodies are ponds, followed by tanks(15.7%), reservoirs(12.1%), water conservation schemes/percolation tanks/check dams (9.3%), lakes (0.9%) and others (2.5%).

– West Bengal has the highest number of ponds and reservoirs whereas Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of tanks. 

– Tamil Nadu has the highest number of lakes and Maharashtra is the leading state with water conservation schemes.

Encroachment of water bodies: The census also collected data on the encroachment of water bodies for the first time, revealing that 1.6% of all enumerated water bodies are encroached, with 95.4% of encroachments in rural areas and the remaining 4.6% in urban areas.

What is the significance of the census of water bodies?

The census provides a comprehensive overview of the distribution of water bodies in India, highlighting the states and districts with the highest number of water bodies.

The data on the encroachment of water bodies can help in identifying areas where conservation efforts are needed to protect these valuable resources.

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