Groundwater depleting, Uma Bharti warns

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) Union Water Minister Uma Bharti on Wednesday warned that groundwater had sharply depleted and called for restraint on its usage.

“Unmindful exploitation of groundwater on large scale has led to a sharp decline in groundwater level and deterioration of water quality, and mass awareness movement for restrained exploitation of groundwater is needed,” Uma Bharti said here.

She was addressing a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to her ministry.

Uma Bharti said many factors were responsible for the depletion.

These include growing demand of groundwater for agriculture, industrial and drinking purposes, change in cropping pattern, scanty rainfall in arid and semi-arid zones, large ground water extraction during drought as well as rapid urbanization.

The minister explained the Decadal fluctuation analysis of water level done by the Central Ground Water Board to assess the change in water level over the last 10 years.

“Pre-monsoon water level data when compared with the decadal average (2006-15) indicates that more than 50% of the wells have registered decline in groundwater level in almost all the states and union territories except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu and Tripura,” she said.

“The development of groundwater resources in different areas has not been uniform. Intensive development of groundwater in certain areas in the country has resulted in over exploitation, leading to decline in ground water levels,” she added.

As per the assessment of ground water resources carried out by CGWB and states in 2011, total Annual Replenishable Ground Water Resources of India have been estimated as 433 Billion Cubic Metres (BCM).

Net Annual Ground Water Availability was estimated at 398 bcm. Annual Ground Water Draft for the entire country for 2011 is estimated at 245 bcm per year. The Stage of Ground Water Development is 62%.

“Focus on development activities needs to be balanced by management mechanisms to achieve sustainable utilization of ground water resources,” she said.

“There is a need for scientific planning in development of ground water under different hydro-geological situations and to evolve effective management practices.”

“The activities of organisations and policies affecting ground water need to reflect the priority issues with the overall objective to provide water security through groundwater management in major parts of the country.”

According to her, the management of groundwater resources in the Indian context requires a combination of area- and problem-specific strategies depending on the climatic, geomorphologic, hydrological and hydro geological settings.

“One of the key management initiative to arrest the depletion of groundwater resources is to augment the resources through artificial recharge to groundwater and rainwater harvesting.

“The Ministry has circulated a model bill to all the states to enable them to enact suitable on groundwater legislation for its regulation and development, which includes provision of rain water harvesting.

“So far, 15 states/union territories have adopted and implemented the ground water legislation on the lines of Model bill,” she added.

“The Master Plan envisages construction of 1.11 crore rain water harvesting and artificial recharge structures at an estimated cost of Rs 79,178 crore to harness 85 BCM (Billion Cubic Metre) of water.

“The augmented groundwater resources will enhance the availability of water for drinking, domestic, industrial and irrigation purposes.”



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