India is the largest user of groundwater in the World, after China. More than 85% of drinking water and 60% of irrigated agriculture supplies are dependent on groundwater supply.
India’s groundwater tables are dropping at an alarming rate. Over 16% of the country’s groundwater resources are ‘over-exploited’, according to Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) – the apex body under the Ministry of Water Resources.
We will soon run out of potable water if current trends continue, warns senior water official. Depleting groundwater levels the biggest threat to rural livelihoods and food security. According to World Bank, if we continue like this, in 20 years about 60% of all India’s aquifers will be in a critical condition. The increasing dependence on ground water as a reliable source of water has resulted in indiscriminate extraction in various parts of the country without due regard to the recharging capacities of aquifers and other environmental factors.
South, West and Central India have significantly lower water table than other regions. South has a frightening 30% of its groundwater table lower than 60 metres below the ground.
Groundwater is the most preferred source of water in India because of following reasons.
- Its near universal availability
- Dependability (unlike rain)
- Low capital cost
- Subsidized electricity to farmers(results low operation cost to pump water)
Groundwater extraction in some states –including Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan – has reached 100%. In Delhi nearly 500,000 illegal bore wells suck up the city’s groundwater. Almost 16% of Delhi’s urban households and 30% of its rural ones don’t have sufficient drinking water throughout the year, according to a National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) study.
Many a time, weak monsoons due to climate change have further eroded India’s groundwater reserves. Groundwater recharge mainly depends on rainfall, so deficient rains mean less groundwater availability. Weak monsoon also leads farmers to draw deeper from groundwater, which pushes water tables down further.
According to Shri Ayyappa Masagi, (founder of Water Literacy Foundation) ‘solution for this critical challenge is available, but solution can be adopted only if community, industry and government supports. City like Bangalore could become water surplus within 2 years if every property harvest rain & grey water properly and rain water fallen on street is recharged back to soil. Namesake adoption of rainwater harvesting will not help, we have to recharge all four levels of water in soil, when doing rainwater harvesting’.
Surely, adoption of rain water harvesting, responsible farming and sustainable urban planning will bring substantial change in situation. In parallel, Government policy & stringent regulations to protect groundwater will play important role in protecting groundwater resources across the nation.
Blog by: Goutam Surana, Founder ‘Neo Systek‘
This article is partially based on the contents I have learnt from different forums & web by individuals & Institute.
Water Conservation Solution, www.neosystek.com
1. ADB (Asian Development Bank) (2007), Asian Development Water Outlook 2007: Achieving Water Security for Asia, Asian Development Bank.
2. Briscoe, J. and R.P.S. Malik (2005), India’s Water Economy: Bracing for a Turbulent Future. World Bank.
3. GoI (Government of India) (2009), State of Environment Report for India 2009, Minstry of Environment and Forests.
4. World Bank (2010), Deep Wells and Prudence: Towards Pragmatic Action for Addressing Groundwater Overexploitation in India, World Bank.
5. GoI (2010), Groundwater Scenario of India 2009–10, Central Ground Water Board, Ministry of Water Resources:http://www.cgwb.gov.in/documents/Ground Water Year Book%2 02009-10.pdf.
6. Chakraborti, D., Das, B. and M. Murrill (2011), ‘Examining India’s Groundwater Quality Management’,Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 45, pp. 27–33.
7. GoNCTD (Government of NCT of Delhi) (2010), State of Environment Report for Delhi 2010, Department of Environment and Forests.
8. Institute: http://rosenberg.ucanr.org/documents/argentina/Tushar Shah Final.pdf.
9. WRG (Water Resources Group) (2009), ‘Charting Our Water Future’, Report of the 2030 Water Resources Group.