- With nearly 18% of the world’s population, India occupies about 2.4% of the planet’s land and uses 4% of its water resources. The nation’s groundwater resources are under stress as a result of the economy’s and population’s rapid growth.
- As a result, the management of groundwater resources has gained importance in the nation.
GS Paper-2: Government Policies, Governance and related issues.
GS Paper-3: Water Resources and its conservation.
What steps is the Indian government taking to improve groundwater governance? Include some recommendations for additional improvement. (250 Words)
According to a World Bank report, India uses more groundwater than any other country in the world. There is no federal law governing the use of groundwater, and each State has its own laws governing its extraction that are applied haphazardly.
The significance of groundwater
- For nearly 80% of the country’s drinking water needs and two-thirds of its irrigation needs, India’s agriculture and drinking water security in rural and urban areas depend on groundwater. As one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India will need adequate groundwater resources to manage anthropogenic pressures.
- Under the Jal Jeevan Mission, it is crucial to ensure source sustainability in order to deliver clean drinking water to all rural households by 2024. o Groundwater is essential to India’s water security.
Assessment of the Dynamic Ground Water Resource, 2022
- Recently, a report titled “National Compilation on Dynamic Groundwater Resources of India” that provides an overview of the groundwater situation in India was made public by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
- The results of the groundwater assessment point to a favourable tendency toward groundwater management.
- The number of “overexploited” groundwater units has decreased by 3%, and the number of “safe” category units has increased by 4%, according to the most recent assessment.
- The annual extraction of groundwater is 239.16 BCM, while the total annual groundwater recharge is 437.60 BCM.
- on 909 units, the state of the groundwater improved.
- The assessment also revealed a decrease in annual extraction (of about 9.53 billion cubic metres); the corresponding figures for irrigation, industry, and domestic use are 208.49 BCM, 3.64 BCM, and 27.05 BCM, respectively.
- According to the 2022 assessment, groundwater extraction is at its lowest level since 2004 (231 bcm).
Initiatives for Better Groundwater Governance:
- The federal government is working with the states and union territories to manage groundwater sustainably.
- During this process, a number of significant initiatives have been noted, including A reduction in groundwater extraction to below 70%.
- Extending the groundwater observation well network.
- Setting up digital water level recorders for ongoing observation.
- routine groundwater quality inspections.
- Data dissemination and aquifer mapping.
- Improving industry regulation of groundwater extraction.
- Supporting routine groundwater resource assessments and participatory groundwater management.
- Establishment of the Jal Shakti Ministry (by combining the former Ministries of Drinking Water and Sanitation, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation), which will help to advance the management of water resources with a focus on demand and supply.
- After recognising the value of community involvement, the Jal Shakti Abhiyan was started to turn Jan Shakti into Jal Shakti through the creation of assets, rainwater harvesting (the “Catch the Rain” campaign), and a broad awareness campaign.
- Other initiatives, such as the National Project on Aquifer Management and the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABY), have been taken to effectively manage and regulate groundwater (NAQUIM).
- In order to achieve “participatory groundwater management,” ABY seeks to foster the kind of behavioural modification made possible by incentives.
- Aquifers that contain water are to be mapped as part of NAQUIM in order to collect accurate information and allow for well-informed decision-making.
- Out of the nearly 25 lakh square kilometres that can be mapped, about 24 lakh square kilometres of the country have been mapped. By March 2023, the remaining area should be mapped.
- Rapid and precise aquifer mapping has been achieved by combining traditional exploratory techniques with a heliborne-based survey (state-of-the-art technology).
- Boosting the Number of Monitoring Stations
- There are currently 7,885 automated monitoring stations in India, which makes up about 65,025 total monitoring stations. o This number is expected to rise to over 84,000, with over 35,000 automated stations being added, with a particular focus on identifying groundwater-stressed areas and industrial and urban clusters that extract a lot of groundwater. o Dynamic groundwater assessments will now be performed annually, and a committee has been formed to review the assessment methodology.
- Additionally, a programme called the “India-Groundwater Resource Estimation System (IN-GRES)” has been created.
Need of the hour
- Communities will need assistance from numerous governmental and non-governmental organisations to better manage their groundwater resources.
- In the context of climate change, efforts must be made to find solutions that are crucial for sustainable development as uncertainties in relation to groundwater resources will grow.
- According to a draught national water policy, recycling should take precedence over using freshwater for industrial purposes and water-intensive crops should be abandoned.
- Water shouldn’t be viewed as a free, private resource; instead, its costs should be calculated and shared fairly.
- Despite the fact that water is still a divisive political issue in India, the global warming crisis should inspire agreement on the need to discourage wasteful consumption of this limited resource.
- The initiatives taken by various governments have started to show results, which is why the groundwater resource assessment report for 2022 predicts a better future for groundwater conditions in the nation.
- This is a fresh start, and action must be taken to make India a water-surplus country, achieving one of the main Sustainable Development Goals of the UN: providing access to clean water for all.
The government’s efforts to improve the general groundwater situation in India show a commitment to cooperative federalism in the management of this priceless resource.