Groundwater Current Affairs
The Union Government has formulated ambitious water conservation scheme Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABY) to tackle ever-deepening crisis of depleting groundwater level.
The Rs 6,000-crore will be piloted under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation. It is awaiting cabinet’s clearance.
Atal Bhujal Yojana
The objective of scheme is to recharge ground water and create sufficient water storage for agricultural purposes. It also focuses on revival of surface water bodies so that ground water level can be increased, especially in the rural areas. It will give emphasis to recharging ground water sources and ensure efficient use of water by involving people at local level.
The scheme after Cabinet’s clearance will soon be launched in water-stressed states: Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. It will cover 78 districts, 193 blocks and more than 8,300 gram panchayats across these states.
Centre will support half of the total project cost and rest of the budgetary cost will be shared by the World Bank.
This scheme will help those who are in need for constant ground water supply especially farmers who have been hard impacted by acute shortage of ground water for past several years. Its focus is primarily on involvement of communities and convergence with different water schemes.
Its major component is making society responsible and bringing about behaviour change to manage groundwater resource. It will help improve overall outlook towards water resource.
The current status of groundwater is alarming, primarily due to non-uniform ground water development and its over-exploitation. According to report published by the Central Ground Water Board (Ground Water Assessment, 2011), out of 6,607 assessed administrative units 1,071 units are over ground water exploited, 217 units are critical, 697 units are semi-critical, and 4,530 units are safe. Moreover, there are 92 units are completely saline.
The number of over-exploited and critical administrative units is significantly higher in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and also in Union Territories of Puducherry and Daman and Diu. The declining ground water levels have resulted in failure of wells or deepening of extraction structures, leading to additional burden on farmers.
The Union Water Ministry is planning to impose restrictions on how industries, farmers and various groups can use groundwater by amending to a Bill on groundwater management.
It was announced by the Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti at a seminar organised by the Central Groundwater Board in New Delhi.
Earlier in 2016, the Water Ministry had made public a draft Bill that proposed significant changes to the way groundwater will be regulated.
- The bill seeks to sharply regulate extracting pristine water from aquifiers which is currently the norm in much of the country. Failing to adhere it will invite stringent punishment.
- It seeks to guarantee every individual a certain amount of water “for life” and protecting groundwater from undue exploitation and pollution.
- Industries can only use recycled water, and activities such as gardening must use treated sewage water. It also mandates the use of rainwater harvesting in residential projects.
However, this new version of the Bill does not compel companies and other stakeholders to use recycled water. It only demands t users “give priority” to recycling water.
What is the issue?
Groundwater depletion is among the grave ecological threats that the country faces. It has become serious concern to use groundwater judiciously. The groundwater is source to around 85 % of drinking water and 65% of water for irrigation. However, water being State subject in the seventh schedule of constitution has stalled previous plans to address the problems. Even existing laws give the owners of a piece of land complete right over its groundwater.