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India’s Groundwater Governance

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January 30, 2023

Why in news?

The government’s interventions for better and scientific management of the groundwater situation in India reflect the spirit of cooperative federalism in managing a precious resource.

How about the picture of groundwater usage in India?

  • India, with nearly 18% of the world’s population, occupies about 2.4% of the total geographical area and consumes 4% of total water resources.
  • A World Bank report says that India is the largest groundwater user.
  • Groundwater is the backbone of India’s agriculture and drinking water security, meeting nearly 80% of the country’s drinking water and two-thirds of its irrigation needs.
  • The theme of UN World Water Day 2022 - ‘Groundwater, Making the Invisible Visible’ is a reflection of the importance given to the water resource.

groundwater

What efforts have been taken for ground water conservation?

  • Deliverables for sustainability - The central government has identified certain important deliverables for sustainable groundwater management.
  • It include a reduction in groundwater extraction to below 70%, installing digital water level recorders, aquifer mapping, better regulation of groundwater extraction, participatory groundwater management and periodic groundwater resource assessment.
  • Jal Shakti Ministry - In 2019, Jal Shakti Ministry was created (a merger of Ministries of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation with Drinking Water and Sanitation).
  • This was to give impetus to the management of water resources with special focus on demand and supply management.
  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan - The Jal Shakti Abhiyan was launched to transform Jan Shakti into Jal Shakti through asset creation, rainwater harvesting (Catch the Rain Campaign) and extensive awareness.
  • It was created after realising the importance of community participation.
  • Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABY) – It was piloted in 2018 to recharge ground water and create sufficient water storage for agricultural purposes.
  • It will give emphasis to recharging ground water sources and ensure efficient use of water by involving people at local level.
  • The National Project on Aquifer Management (NAQUIM) – It envisages mapping of sub-surface water bearing geological formations (aquifers) to gather authentic data and enable informed decision-making.
  • IN-GRES - A software, ‘India-Groundwater Resource Estimation System (IN-GRES)’, has also been developed.
  • Groundwater guidelines - The comprehensive groundwater guidelines 2020 provided for regulation in various sectors making the processes of issuing a no-objection certificate transparent and time-bound.

According to the Groundwater assessment 2022, there has been a 3% reduction in the number of ‘overexploited’ groundwater units and a 4% increase in the number of ‘safe’ category units as compared to 2017.

What is the need of the hour?

  • As one of the fastest growing economies, India will need adequate groundwater resources to manage anthropogenic pressures.
  • It is important to ensure source sustainability to provide safe drinking water to all rural households by 2024, under the Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • Community’s engagement is needed to realise the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 of ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

 

References

  1. The Hindu | India’s groundwater governance is in better shape
  2. Indpaedia | Groundwater in India
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