GROUNDWATER DEPLETION

  • Recently, an analysis of water level data done by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) indicates that about 33% of the wells monitored have registered decline in ground water levels in the range of 0 – 2 metres.
  • Moreover, a decline of more than 4.0 m has also been observed in a few pockets of metro cities like New Delhi, Chennai, Indore, Madurai, Vijayawada, Ghaziabad, Kanpur, and Lucknow, etc.
  • CGWB is periodically monitoring the ground water levels throughout the Country including metro cities on a regional scale, through a network of monitoring wells.

Important points:

  • The UNESCO World Water Development Report, 2018 states that India is the largest extractor of groundwater in the world.
  • The contribution of groundwater to national gross domestic product is never measured.
  • According to the CGWB, with 230 billion metre cube of groundwater drawn out each year for irrigating agriculture lands in India, many parts of the country are experiencing rapid depletion of groundwater.
  • The total estimated groundwater depletion in India is in the range of 122–199 billion metre cube.
  • Green Revolution enabled water intensive crops to be grown in drought prone/ water deficit regions, leading to over extraction of groundwater.
  • Frequent pumping of water from the ground without waiting for its replenishment leads to quick depletion.
  • Further, Subsidies on electricity and high MSP (Minimum Support Price) for water intensive crops.
  • Water contamination as in the case of pollution by landfills, septic tanks, leaky underground gas tanks, and from overuse of fertilizers and pesticides leading to damage and depletion of groundwater resources.
  • Inadequate regulation of groundwater encourages the exhaustion of groundwater resources without any penalty.
  • In India, construction of irrigation wells does not require any clearance and no records are maintained of abandoned wells.
  • Several hundred wells are constructed in India every day and even more are abandoned when they run dry.
  • Water being a State subject, initiatives on water management including water conservation and water harvesting and making available adequate drinkable water to citizens in the Country is primarily States’ responsibility.
  • However, important measures including funding of various projects are taken by the Central Government.

Way Forward

The Prime Minister of India has taken a step in the right direction by highlighting the importance of water conservation and the need to adopt appropriate measures to make water conservation a mass movement.

SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT

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