[Answered] Highlight the Issues associated with the groundwater extraction in India. Also, suggest some steps to manage the ground water level in India.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some issues associated with the groundwater extraction.  Also write some steps to manage the ground water level in India.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Groundwater plays an important role in increasing food and agricultural production, providing safe drinking water and facilitating industrial development in India. It contributes fresh water to meet the requirements of nearly 65% of irrigated area, which caters to nearly 85% of rural drinking water and 50% of urban drinking water needs. India is the largest user of Groundwater (GW) and 87% of GW is used for Irrigation.

Issues associated with the groundwater extraction:

  • As the depleting groundwater levels lower the water table, the user has to look into deep to extract water. This will increase cost for water extraction.
  • Groundwater depletion may lower the water table leading to difficulty in extracting groundwater for usage.
  • A substantial amount of the water flowing in rivers comes from seepage of groundwater into the streambed. Depletion of groundwater levels may reduce water flow in such streams.
  • A huge part of Indian agriculture depends on irrigation from groundwater. If groundwater availability faces difficulties then there will be hindrances in agricultural production leading to a shortage of food.

Measures to manage the ground water level in India:

  • Dedicated law:There is no central law governing the use of groundwater and various States have their own laws on regulating its extraction that are deployed in a perfunctory manner.
  • A draft National Water Policyhas recommended a shift in usage from water-guzzling crops and prioritising recycled over freshwater for industrial purposes.
  • To improve the water table in those areas where it is being overused, on-farm water management techniques and improved irrigation methodsshould be adopted. E.g. Methods for artificial recharge of groundwater.
  • Traditional methods of water conservationshould be encouraged to minimize the depletion of water resources. E.g., water from the house runoff is an excellent source of irrigation.
  • The agricultural power-pricing structureneeds to be revamped as the flat rate of electricity adversely affects the use of groundwater.
  • There should be a policy in place to monitor the excessive exploitation of groundwater resources to ensure long-term sustainability. E.g. Water meterscould be installed to monitor overuse.

Groundwater depletion is becoming an alarming issue day by day. Leveraging schemes like Atal Bhujal Yojana which seeks to strengthen the institutional framework and bring about behavioural changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management is vital.

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