Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights into Editorial: Further stressed by thermal power

Insights into Editorial: Further stressed by thermal power


Water and energy are closely linked. The water industry is energy-intensive, consuming electricity for desalination, pumping, and treatment of wastewater.

The energy industry is also water-intensive, which is the focus of this report. Water is used for resource extraction (oil, gas, coal, biomass etc.), energy conversion (refining and processing), transportation and power generation.

The Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) by the NITI Aayog, which was released earlier, shows that 600 million people face high to extreme water stress in India.

The report, which was published in association with the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Ministry of Rural Development, places India at a dismal 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index.

Low -performing states house approximately 50% of India’s population.


Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) by the NITI Aayog:

The CWMI is an important tool to assess and improve the performance of States/ Union Territories in efficient management of water resources

This has been done through a first of its kind water data collection exercise in partnership with Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation and all the States/ Union Territories.

The index would provide useful information for the States and also for the concerned Central Ministries/Departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.

CWMI has been developed by NITI Aayog comprising 9 broad sectors with 28 different indicators covering various aspects of ground water, restoration of water bodies, irrigation, farm practices, drinking water, policy and governance.

The projected water demand of the energy sector makes it an important point for the NITI Aayog to consider while bringing out future iterations of the CWMI.


Basis for CWMI Rating:

The system of ratings is based on their performance in

  • Augmenting water resources and watersheds.
  • Investing in infrastructure
  • Providing rural and urban drinking water
  • Encouraging efficient agricultural use.


Usage of Water in Energy Sector:

The share of water consumed by this sector was 0.62% in 2010. It is expected to rise up to 1.37% in 2030 and 8.98% in 2050.

The projected water demand of the energy sector makes it an important point for the NITI Aayog to consider while bringing out future iterations of the CWMI.


Usage and future Water demand in the energy sector:


As per the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), March 2018, thermal electricity accounts for more than 86% of India’s total power generation.

The analysis shows that 77% of India’s total electricity comes from thermal power plants that are dependent on freshwater sources.

Of all the freshwater-cooled thermal plants, 38.9% of generation capacity is installed in areas with high or extremely high water-stress.

By 2030, more than 70% of India’s existing thermal power utilities are likely to experience an increased level of water competition from agricultural, urban, and other industrial demands.


Way Forward: There is a need of measuring water consumption data of energy sector

The CWMI also raises three main issues related to data:

  • Limited coverage,
  • Unreliable data and
  • Limited coordination and sharing

It can easily be tackled by using the existing CEA reporting mechanism for the daily generation.

Daily water withdrawal and consumption reporting should be mandated. These can be measured with existing technology and added to this reporting framework.

In addition, information about water stress, power plant siting (location) and so on must be shared seamlessly across departments, a service that the CWMI could perform

Such information will also help in the implementation of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Notification, which mandates specific water consumption norms for existing and new thermal power plants



Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) predicts that a persistent water crisis will lead to an eventual 6% loss in the country’s Gross Domestic Product by 2030.

Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are some of the States that initiated reforms for judicious water use.

The CWMI concludes by noting that water-scarce States such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana are leaders in the CWMI Index.

Factoring in the water-energy nexus linkages, especially the metrics around power plant water withdrawal and consumption, will only help make the Index better and the States better prepared to manage their water and power resources.

As the power sector consumes more water, competition between power and the other thirsty players is only likely to increase a factor that future editions of the CWMI will have to consider.