Ground Water In India Depleting Rapidly
Post on 24,January 2018   9:56 AM
By - Miss. Aikta Pathak
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Among the world's largest groundwater basins, the Indus Basin aquifer of India and Pakistan, which is a source of fresh water for millions of people, is the second-most overstressed with no natural replenishment to offset usage, as per two new studies led by the University of California - Irvine (UCI), using data from GRACE satellites.

About a third of the Earth's largest groundwater basins are being rapidly depleted by human consumption. Groundwater aquifers are typically located in soils or deeper rock layers beneath the Earth's surface. The most overburdened aquifers are in the world's driest areas, where populations draw heavily on underground water. Climate change and population growth are expected to intensify the problem, the researchers warned.

What is groundwater exploitation? Excessive withdrawal of groundwater for various purposes including irrigation, domestic and industrialization, and an uneven magnitude of erratic rainfall resulting inadequate refilling of water level has gradually caused decline in ground water levels.

Ground water contamination is the presence of certain pollutants in ground water that are in excess of the limits prescribed for drinking water. The commonly observed contaminants include arsenic, fluoride, nitrate and iron, which are geogenic in nature. Other contaminants include bacteria, phosphates and heavy metals which are a result of human activities including domestic sewage, agricultural practices and industrial effluents. The sources of contamination include pollution by landfills, septic tanks, leaky underground gas tanks, and from overuse of fertilizers and pesticides. It has been pointed out that nearly 60% of all districts in the country have issues related to either availability of ground water, or quality of ground water, or both.

What are the Initiatives that Government of India has taken? The National Water Policy (2012) was formulated which advocates conservation, promotion and protection of water and highlights the need for augmenting the availability of water through rain water harvesting, direct use of rainfall and other management measures.

Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has been constituted Under “The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986” for the purpose of regulation and control of ground water development and management.

As per Schedule-I of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the water conservation and water harvesting structures to augment ground water constitute a special focus area for MGNREGA works.

CGWB has taken up Aquifer Mapping and Management programme during XII Plan.

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change have merged two separate programmes, namely,

National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) and National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP) into a new Integrated Scheme of National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-Systems (NPCA) for conservation and management of identified lakes and wetlands in the country.

CGWB has been organizing mass awareness programmes in the country to promote rain water harvesting and artificial recharge to ground water.

Concluding Remark: Government has taken many precautionary as well as curative measures but the legal scenario is superficial at many instances. The phenomena of local water users successfully managing their water resources has been observed in only a few areas. The Planning Commission recommended that local planners take the following steps while planning for ground water management Such as determining the relationship between surface hydrological units such as watershed or river basins, and hydrological units below the ground such as aquifers, Identification of ground water recharge areas, Maintaining ground water balance at the level of the village or the watershed, and creating regulatory options at the community level such as panchayat. Examples of activities that could be regulated at the local level include drilling depth, distance between wells, cropping patterns to ensure sustainability of aquifers and participatory ground water management.



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