Tamil Nadu (India): water woes


Desertification of Tamil Nadu: Private Wells & Paddy

To understand the scale of Tamil Nadu’s water woes, let’s understand what the demand is and how much water there is to divvy up. The demand estimate by the various sectors are,



This 1,894 TMC is well beyond total assessed water resources in the state which is 1,587 TMC. In other words, the demand is 19.3% over and above known supply. So even if there’s good/normal rainfall in Tamil Nadu, the demand exceeds supply. Partly because we discharge fresh water into the sea in some cases and because we haven’t invested enough in processes to recharge aquifers. But even if all of that is done, it’s unlikely this deficit will vanish.

With agriculture/irrigation taking up 93% of the demand, that becomes the only segment that demands our attention. Sure the City of Chennai and its bourgeoisie waste a lot of water or appear to when measured on per capita consumption of domestic water compared to their rural counterparts. But that’s inconsequential in the overall scheme of things. Water scarcity in Chennai does not cause desertification. While Tamil Nadu’s unsustainable sectoral allocation will.

To understand where this 93% water largely gets used, let’s look at Tamil Nadu’s land use pattern. Tamil Nadu’s land area that is sown is 38.3% of its total surface area. That to those of us who aren’t familiar with the data, sounds like a staggeringly high number. Let’s understand where these farmlands are, and to what extent.

Read the full article: PURAM


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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