India’s groundwater consumption prompted a recent World Bank report to call the country “the world’s largest guzzler of groundwater”. Increasing urbanisation and accelerated localised demand had pushed the per capita availability of water in India to a “water-stressed condition” for the first time in 2011. This implied annual per capita water availability of less than 1,700 cubic metres.
India had 398 billion cubic metres of extractable groundwater resources in 2022, recharged largely by the monsoons. The usage continued to go up even after 2011, but moderated after 2013, according to data from government reports (charts 1, 2). However, experts have expressed doubts over the credibility of improved water statistics owing to the loss of wetlands and riverbeds. India uses water