National Water Mission (NWM) – UPSC Environment Notes

As one of the eight National Missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change, the Indian government has established the National Water Mission (NWM). Through integrated water resource development and management, the primary objective of NWM is “conservation of water, avoiding wastage, and guaranteeing its more fair distribution both among and within States.” The Mission will take into account the National Water Policy’s requirements and create a framework to optimize water use by boosting water use efficiency by 20% via regulatory mechanisms with various entitlements and pricing. This article will explain to you about National Water Mission (NWM) which will be helpful in preparing the Environment Syllabus for the UPSC Civil Service exam.

National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)

  • To mitigate and prepare for climate change, the Union Government has formulated the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
  • The Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change is responsible for establishing the NAPCC.
  • The NAPCC focuses on actions that support development goals while providing additional benefits for effectively addressing climate change.
  • The foundation of the National Action Plan consists of eight key “National Missions.”
  • These missions prioritize raising awareness about climate change, implementing strategies for adaptation and mitigation, promoting energy efficiency, and ensuring the preservation of natural resources.

Why focus on Water Conservation and Management?

  • The overuse of water resources and the impact of climate change are pushing India towards the brink of water scarcity.
  • Government policies, especially in agriculture, contribute to the over-exploitation of water, making India a water-stressed economy.
  • Water resource conservation and management are crucial in addressing these challenges.
  • India’s current water requirement is approximately 1,100 billion cubic meters per year, projected to increase to 1,447 billion cubic meters by 2050.
  • Despite having 16% of the world’s population, India possesses only 4% of the world’s freshwater resources, contributing to its water-stressed status.
  • Changing weather patterns and recurring droughts further exacerbate India’s water stress.
  • According to the Central Ground Water Board, annual extraction of 230 billion cubic meters of groundwater for agricultural irrigation leads to rapid groundwater depletion.
  • The estimated groundwater depletion in India ranges between 122 and 199 billion cubic meters.

National Water Mission – Objectives

  • Integrated Water Resource Management: Ensure integrated water resource management for water conservation, reducing waste, and fair distribution within and across states.
  • Framework Creation: Develop a framework for maximizing water use efficiency by a 20% increase through regulatory mechanisms, considering the National Water Policy (NWP).
  • Wastewater Recycling: Ensure a significant portion of metropolitan water needs is met through wastewater recycling.
  • Use of Modern Technology for Desalination: Utilize modern, effective technology, including low-temperature desalination methods using ocean water, to fulfill water needs in coastal cities lacking alternative sources.
  • Review of Basin-level Management Strategies: Review and implement basin-level management strategies to address climate change-induced variations in rainfall and river flows. Strategies include improving storage, rainwater harvesting, and establishing fair and effective management structures.
  • Creation of Regulatory Frameworks: Establish new regulatory frameworks to upgrade outdated irrigation systems, expand irrigation to enhance storage capacity, and repair damaged systems.
  • Adoption of Large-scale Irrigation Program: Implement a large-scale irrigation program focused on effective techniques, promoting the use of water-neutral and water-positive technologies, and recharging subsurface water sources.

National Water Mission – Major Provisions

  • Creation of a network of data banks and databases: Establishing a standardized national information system.
  • Guidelines for the security of water-related facilities: Ensuring the security of facilities such as storage dams.
  • Control of groundwater extraction: Regulating the extraction of groundwater.
  • Top objectives for water allocation: Prioritizing water allocation for drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, navigation, industry, and other crucial uses.
  • Consideration for small and marginal farmers: Ensuring that water rates for both surface water and groundwater are rationalized, with due consideration for the interests of small and marginal farmers.
  • Policy addressing various aspects: Addressing aspects like managing floods and droughts, erosion management, farmers’ participation, water quality, water zoning, and water conservation.

National Water Mission – Activities

  • Drives: Initiatives to construct check dams, rooftop RWHS, and water collection pits.
  • Increment in Water Storage Capacity: Increasing storage capacity through desilting tanks and addressing encroachments.
  • Removal of Impediments: Clearing obstacles from water canals that transport water from catchment regions.
  • Restoration of Water Aquifers: Restoring water to aquifers by utilizing ancient wells, defunct boreholes, and traditional WHS, including repairs to step-wells.
  • Awareness Campaign (Jal Shakti Abhiyan II): NYKS will conduct an awareness campaign across 623 districts between December 2020 and March 2021 for Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) II, employing various IEC programs.
  • Educational and Motivational Programs: IEC efforts will encompass providing educational and motivational programs, organizing extensive awareness campaigns, and creating a positive environment through activities like wall art.
  • Rain Centres: States are urged to establish Rain Centers in every district, serving as resources for technical advice and assistance to the community.

National Water Mission – Mission Document

  • The National Water Mission document consists of two volumes.
  • In the first volume, the focus is on the financial requirements for the mission, necessary R&D, monitoring procedures, and the composition of various committees essential for mission implementation.
  • The second volume of the mission document contains reports generated by six distinct subcommittees.
  • The subcommittees are:
    • Sub-Committee on “Surface Water Management committee”
    • Sub-Committee on “Efficient use of water for various purposes committee”
    • Sub-Committee on “Domestic and Industrial Water management committee”
    • Sub-Committee on “Policy and Institutional framework committee”
    • Sub-Committee on “Groundwater management committee”
    • Sub-Committee on “Basin level planning and management”

National Water Mission Awards 2019

  • The National Water Mission’s mission document outlines 5 goals and 39 strategies for their achievement.
  • As part of its tactics, the Mission introduces “National Water Mission Awards” to recognize accomplishments in water conservation, effective water use, and sustainable water management.
  • Awards are presented in 10 categories, acknowledging achievements such as a comprehensive public water database, climate change impact assessment on water resources, promotion of citizen and state action for water conservation, and concentration on sensitive areas, especially over-exploited ones.
  • Notable awardees include the Water Resources Department of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, the Irrigation and CAD Department of the Government of Telangana, Environmental Planning and Coordination Organisation (EPCO), Ambuja Cement Foundation, State Ground Water Department, and others.
  • Specific achievements, like increasing water use efficiency by 20%, are recognized in various sectors, including local individuals/farmers/citizens, public organizations, and industries/corporates.
  • Winners include the Telangana State Government’s Department of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Raymond UCO Denim Pvt Ltd, Lalitpur Power Generation Company Ltd, and Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd, Guntur.
  • The promotion of basin-level integrated water resources management award goes to Andhra Pradesh’s Water Resources Department and Maharashtra’s Water Resources Department.

National Water Mission – Significance

  • Youngsters will grasp the value of water through dedicated emphasis on water conservation and rainwater collection.
  • Prioritizing water conservation as the top concern will lead to the adoption of an integrated strategy for water management.
  • Implementing the concept of “No or only limited will water to flow out of the complex” will bring about improved soil moisture and a rising groundwater table.
  • This approach will reduce water runoff onto roads in metropolitan areas, safeguarding them from damage and preventing urban flooding.


The National Water Mission and its associated initiatives, including Jal Jeevan Mission and Jal Shakti Abhiyan, play a vital role in assisting the government in establishing robust systems to ensure water availability in even the most vulnerable areas. These initiatives also aim to provide long-term solutions for the sustainable use of water across the nation. In May 2019, the Government of India established the Ministry of Jal Shakti, merging the Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation and the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation. This consolidation aimed to address the growing water concerns of the past few decades comprehensively. The ministry has initiated various projects and programs to educate the public about the critical importance of water conservation.

FAQs on National Water Mission

Question: Who started National Water Mission?

Answer: The National Water Mission (NWM) was initiated by the Government of India as part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change. It was launched to address the challenges of water scarcity, conservation, and efficient water resource management.

Question: What are the goals of NWM?

Answer: The goals of the National Water Mission include ensuring integrated water resource management for conservation, reducing waste, and ensuring fair distribution both within and across states. The mission aims to optimize water use efficiency, promote sustainable practices, and align with the objectives of the National Water Policy.

Question: What is Jal Jeevan Mission?

Answer: The Jal Jeevan Mission is a government initiative in India with the goal of providing safe and adequate drinking water to every rural household by 2024. Launched in 2019, it focuses on the integrated development of water supply infrastructure, water conservation, and efficient management of water resources to ensure the sustainability of water supply in rural areas.


  • “The ideal solution to depleting groundwater resources in India is a water harvesting system.” How can it be made effective in urban areas? [UPSC 2018]
  • The effective management of land and water resources will drastically reduce human miseries. Explain [UPSC 2016]
  • India is well endowed with fresh water resources. Critically examine why it still suffers from water scarcity [UPSC 2015]

UPSC PYQ Prelims

Question: If National Water Mission is properly and completely implemented, how will it impact the country? [UPSC 2012]

  1. Part of the water needs of urban areas will be met through the recycling of wastewater.
  2. The water requirements of coastal clues with inadequate alternative sources of water will be met by adopting appropriate technologies that allow for the use of ocean water.
  3. All the rivers of Himalayan origin will be linked to the rivers of peninsular India.
  4. The expenses incurred by farmers for digging bore-wells and for installing motors and pump sets to draw ground water will be completely reimbursed by the Government.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  • (a) 1 only
  • (b) 1 and 2 only
  • (c) 3 and 4 only
  • (d) 1, 2, 3, and 4

Answer: (b)

Question: Consider the following statements: [UPSC 2013]

Which one among the following industries is the maximum consumer of water in India?

  • (a) Engineering
  • (b) Paper and pulp
  • (c) Textiles
  • (d) Thermal power

Answer: (d)

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