India’s groundwater governance is in better shape

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Source: The post is based on the article India’s groundwater governance is in better shapepublished in The Hindu on 28th January 2023. 

Syllabus: GS1- Economic geography. GS2- Government policies and interventions 

Relevance: Regulation and management of groundwater resources.

News: The article explains the facts and statistics about groundwater in India.

What are some facts and statistics about groundwater resources in India? 

India has nearly 18% of the world’s population. It occupies about 2.4% of the total geographical area and consumes 4% of the total water resources 

A World Bank report says that India is the largest groundwater user. A rapidly growing economy and population are straining the country’s groundwater resources. 

India has distinct and varying hydro-geological settings. Groundwater is the backbone of India’s agriculture and drinking water securityIt meets nearly 80% of the country’s drinking water and two-thirds of its irrigation needs. Groundwater is pivotal to India’s water security. 

What are the steps taken by the government for protecting groundwater resources? 

Jal Shakti Ministry was created by merging the erstwhile Ministries of Water Resources with Drinking Water and Sanitation. This was to give impetus to the management of water resources with special focus on demand and supply management 

The Jal Shakti Abhiyan was launched for community participation in the management of water resources through asset creation, rainwater harvesting and extensive awareness campaigns. 

Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABY): It looks to inculcate behavioural change through incentivisation. The goal is “participatory groundwater management”.  

National Project on Aquifer Management (NAQUIM): It envisages the mapping of subsurface aquifers to help gather authentic data and enable informed decision-making. Around 24 lakh square kms of the country has been mapped. Region-wise aquifer management plans are being prepared and shared with States. 

Monitoring stations: There are around 65,025 monitoring stations in India. The numbers are set to go beyond 84,000.  The focus will be on identified high groundwater extracting industrial and urban clusters and groundwater stressed regions 

Samples from fixed locations are obtained to check for the presence of heavy and trace metals 

Dynamic groundwater assessments will be done annually now and a groundwater estimation committee formed to revise the assessment methodology.  

A software, ‘India-Groundwater Resource Estimation System (IN-GRES)’, has also been developed. 

What are the impacts of steps taken by the government for protecting groundwater resources? 

The groundwater resource assessment report 2022 shows a brighter future for groundwater situations in the country as the initiatives taken by various governments have begun yielding results.  

According to the latest assessment, 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.  

There was an improvement in groundwater conditions in 909 units. The assessment also showed a reduction in annual extraction. Overall extraction saw a declining trend of about 3.25% since 2017. 

Around 9.37 BCM of additional groundwater potential was created through artificial water conservation structures 

The government’s interventions for creating a positive impact on the overall groundwater scenario in India reflect the spirit of cooperative federalism 

What is the way forward to ensure sustainable management of groundwater resources? 

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. 

Communities will have to manage their groundwater resources in a better way with the help of various government agencies and non-governmental organisations. 

In the context of climate change, more efforts must be made to find solutions that are essential for sustainable development 

Steps must be taken to make India a water surplus nation, thus fulfilling the objective of a key United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, of water for all.

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