Qualitative and quantitative water scarcity issues in Bihar - A presentation
Nature's abundance vanishes; the once amply resourced Bihar tackles the rapid depletion, the emerging water scarcity and quality.

This presentation  highlights the grave water situation in Bihar in the context of the emerging water quality and quantity issues that the world and especially developing countries will be facing in the near future.

The presentation informs that the water situation in Bihar is in a serious crisis, inspite of the ample resources that it has been blessed with due to:

  • High dependence on groundwater (85%)
  • Over extraction of ground water for irrigation
  • Uncontrolled deforestation
  • Neglect of traditional practices and systems, including rain water harvesting
  • Inadequate integrated water management and watershed development
  • Emerging water quality problems

The author informs that in terms of:

Water availability

  • The gross per capita water availability in Bihar will decline from about 1,950 m3/yr in 2001 to as low as about 1,170 m3/yr in 2050
  • Bihar will reach a state of water stress before 2020 when the availability of clean water falls below 1000 m3 per capita

The current status of surplus river water shows that:

  • Surface water coverage in Ghagra-Gandak & Gandak-Kosi Zones has decreased by 43.4% and 37.8% respectively
  • There has been massive sedimentation leading to near obliteration of water bodies, including channel flows
  • There has been an increase in surface water area in Kosi Fan by 7.65%
  • There has been an eastward shift in mid-section of the Kosi

This has had an impact on:

  • Ground water recharge
  • Fish culture and “makhana” cultivation
  • Shrinkage and disappearance of wetland ecology
  • Seismotectonic changes in North Bihar
  • Seasonal availability of surface water has declined by 43% for the state of Bihar as a whole

Water quality issues:

Surface water contamination:

  • Surface water pollution indicates massive bacteriological and chemical contamination
  • The Ganga water has become highly polluted with very high bacterial contamination
  • Growing urbanization and industrialization have increased the pollution load discharged into the River Ganga resulting in loss of the river’s assimilative capacity
  • Very high rate of herniation has been detected in Ganga water

Groundwater contamination:

  • Ground water contamination has been found to be high due to iron, arsenic, fluoride and nitrate
  • A total of 16 Bihar districts ( 57 blocks) are affected by high level of arsenic in the groundwater
  • Trivalent arsenic 87 % in ground water of Bihar, Worst affected districts are Bhojpur, Bhagalpur, Samastipur, and Khagaria
  • Fluoride contaminated aquifers have been found in the dry areas of Gaya,Nawada,Rohtas, Katihar, Munger and Bhagalpur
  • Dental fluorosis is common among children, Skeletal Fluorosis and non Skeletal Fluorosis common

The author ends by making the following recommendations:

  • Need to control indiscriminate ground water usage.
  • Need to match specific water demand to quality
  • Maximize use of reclaimed water at site
  • Need for sustained resources for technology,training, infrastructure
  • An urgent need to enforce healthy land use policy
  • Attention on agriculture and industry
  • Emphasis on water education, water as ultimate human resource

A copy of the presentation can be downloaded from below:


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