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.