Groundwater management Current Affairs

Atal Bhujal Yojana: Government formulates ambitious water conservation scheme

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.

Significance

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.

Background

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.

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7th International Ground Water Conference held in New Delhi

The 7th International Ground Water Conference (IGWC-2017) was hosted by India in New Delhi from December 11 to 13, 2017. The theme of conference was “Ground water Vision 2030- Water Security, Challenges and Climate Change Adaptation”.

Key Facts

The conference was organized by National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) under aegis of Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. The delegates from 15 countries participated in the conference and 250 research papers were presented, including 32 Keynote papers.

The conference took stock of present status and challenges of Groundwater management in the country under the changing water use and climatic scenarios. It took place at time when water scenario in India, especially the ground water scenario, is getting worse day by day.

The conference discussed these burning issues in 10 focal themes spread. It looked into synergistic policy options between various sectors linked with water resources in country and drawed roadmap to address these challenges for sustainable development goals of 2030.

Depleting groundwater in India

During the past decades, groundwater usage in India has grown many folds and at present 80% of rural domestic needs and 65% of irrigation water requirement and 50% of industrial and urban water needs are sourced from scarce ground water resources.

Over exploitation of ground water has started threatening sustenance of agricultural activities in many key regions in country including Punjab, Rajasthan and Bundelkhand region of central India. It is posing grave threat to food security in future.

Moreover, climate change is further expected to alter ground water recharge regimes across country due to increase in extreme rainfall events. Over exploitation of ground water has also started affecting ground water quality in many areas from geogenic contaminants such as arsenic.

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