Water Crisis in Indian Cities

GS-2 Mains 

Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Question : “Discuss the water crisis in Indian cities, focusing on the challenges of unsafe drinking water, the growth of the packaged drinking water industry, and flaws in piped water delivery systems. Evaluate the potential of decentralized water delivery as a solution and analyze the challenges associated with its implementation. Suggest measures for developing affordable and context-specific solutions to address the water crisis and ensure better water quality in urban areas. (Word limit: 250 words)”


  • Bengaluru, Chennai, and many other Indian cities face their worst water crisis in decades due to:
    • Weak monsoon
    • Unregulated urban growth
    • Depleting groundwater

Unsafe Drinking Water in Urban Areas

  • Large section of urban population lacks safe drinking water.
  • Only 10% of Indian cities meet drinking water standards (Pey Jal Survekshan).
  • Water quality deteriorates in distribution networks due to:
    • Old pipes leaching compounds
    • Sediment buildup
    • Pathogen accumulation
  • Leaky pipes near sewage lines worsen the problem.

Water Deficit and Packaged Drinking Water Industry

  • Water deficit fuels growth of water purifier and packaged drinking water (PDW) industries.
  • Household dependence on 20-liter water jars increases.
  • 38% of Kolkata and 70% of Chennai households buy jarred water despite piped water access.
  • PDW model offers:
    • Decentralized water treatment
    • Non-pipe mode of delivery
    • Reliability (independent water source, established distribution network)

Flaws in Piped Water Delivery

  • CPHFEEO (Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs) sets water supply norms.
  • Standard per capita water requirement: 135 liters/day.
  • All piped water is treated to drinking standards.
  • Only a fraction is needed for drinking/cooking.
  • Treating large volumes for inconsistent quality delivery is inefficient.
  • Capital-intensive distribution networks lack proper repair and maintenance.

Decentralized Water Delivery as a Possible Solution

  • The PDW model with decentralized treatment and non-pipe delivery shows promise.
  • Bengaluru’s water ATMs and similar initiatives in Delhi are pilot projects.

Challenges of Decentralized Water Delivery

  • Affordability – not everyone can afford private PDW.
  • Reverse osmosis method used by PDW raises concerns (WHO):
    • Removes essential minerals

Way Forward

  • Need for conversations on appropriate decentralized treatment technologies.
  • More experiments needed to develop affordable and context-specific solutions (including technology and institutional arrangements).
  • Piped water systems evolved over centuries through continuous improvement.


  • Explore alternative water supply models with decentralized treatment and non-pipe delivery for better water quality.



India’s Job Challenge: Growth vs. Reality

GS-3 Mains 

Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Question : Evaluate the effectiveness of past government efforts in addressing the employment challenge and suggest a multi-pronged policy approach to tackle the issue. (Word limit: 250 words)”


  • Indian economy shows healthy growth momentum (7.6% GDP growth projected in 2023-24).
  • However, concerns remain about job creation and quality of employment.

Lagging Employment Data

  • Despite economic growth, the labor market faces challenges.
  • Labor force participation rate is increasing (from 49.8% in 2017-18 to 57.9% in 2022-23).
  • This rise is mainly due to more women entering the workforce (female participation rate up from 23.3% to 37%).

India Employment Report 2024 Findings

  • Report by ILO and Institute of Human Development highlights concerning trends:
    • Most new jobs are self-employed (often unpaid family workers, mostly women).
    • Increase in agricultural employment, stagnant share in manufacturing.

High Unemployment Rates, Especially Among Youth

  • Job creation is crucial for India’s development.
  • Need to generate more productive jobs beyond self-employment and casual labor.
  • Millions enter the workforce each year (7-8 million).
  • Youth unemployment remains high (12.1% in 2022, down from 17.5% in 2019).
  • Urban and educated youth face higher unemployment.
  • Demographic dividend requires productive jobs for these groups.
  • Challenge: Production is becoming capital-intensive and requires fewer workers.
  • Skill level of jobs in industry and services is rising, not matching labor market needs.

The Way Forward

  • Past government efforts haven’t yielded sufficient progress.
  • Multi-pronged policy approach is needed:
    • Ensure quality education and skill development.
    • Facilitate large-scale labor-intensive manufacturing to absorb low and semi-skilled workers.


  • The new report emphasizes the immense employment challenge for the next Indian government.


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