Extraction of groundwater in India has reached a level that is threatening the water security in the country. Analyse the guidelines issued by central ground water authority in this regard.

India is the largest user of groundwater in the world (25% of the total). However, the groundwater is declining at a fast pace which is a big reason to worry.

The severity of the problem:

  • 90% of the groundwater is used for irrigation and agriculture.
  • Excessive extraction of groundwater for irrigation has led to problems of salinity in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana.
  • The water table in some regions has gone down beyond reach.
  • An acute water crisis may come up if groundwater recharge remains far behind groundwater usage.
  • Along with unsustainable usage, groundwater in India is also polluted by the presence of heavy metals like Flouride and Arsenic.

Guidelines issued by central groundwater authority:

  • Mandatory obtaining of No objection certificate by users of groundwater. However, exceptions are provided to this like agriculture, defense units, private houses, etc.
  • Registration of drilling units.
  • No extraction of groundwater around wetland regions. The exception to this is MSMEs.
  • Group housing societies are required to pay a compensation fee.
  • Strict punishment for violators.

Challenges:

  • Irrigation is exempted from rules even though it utilizes maximum groundwater.
  • Clause for payment of fees for violation undermines the overall cause.

Way forward:

Jal Shakti Abhiyan of GOI, which revolves around restoration and reconstruction of water harvesting units, along with sustainable water management must be taken up along with conservation of groundwater.

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