May 21, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

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UN REPORT ON GROUND WATER EXTRACTION: EVERY DROP COUNTS

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THE CONTEXT:  The report ‘Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023’ has found that 27 of the world’s 31 major aquifers are depleting faster than they can be replenished.

MORE ON THE NEWS:

  • The report ‘Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023’, highlights that world is approaching at six environmental tipping points: accelerating extinctions, groundwater depletion, mountain glacier melting, space debris, unbearable heat and an uninsurable future.
  • United Nations University has warned that 27 of the world’s 31 major aquifers are depleting faster than they can be replenished.
  • According to the report:
    • 78% of wells in Punjab are considered overexploited.
    • The north-western region as a whole is predicted to experience critically low groundwater availability by 2025.
  • Several other reports, including those commissioned by the Niti Aayog and the Central Water Commission, have underlined the poor state of the country’s aquifers.

GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES:

  • National Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme (NAQUIM): The Programme was launched in March 2021.It is an initiative by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India. It is being implemented as a part of the Ground Water Management and Regulation scheme to facilitate better planning and management of groundwater resources.
  • Atal Bhujal Yojana: It was launched on 25 December 2019 under the Jal Jeevan Mission. It is a central sector scheme which aims for sustainable management of groundwater with community participation.
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT): It was launched on 25th June 2015. The main objective is to ensure a proper supply of water and a sewage connection in every household.
  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA): It was launched in 2021. It aims at making water conservation a Jan Andolan through asset creation and extensive communication.

Reasons for Groundwater Extraction:

  • Excessive irrigation: Irrigation alone accounts for 90% of the total groundwater used in India today.
  • Land subsidence: Excessive withdrawal without proper replenishment can decrease the water level of aquifers.
  • Groundwater pollution: Water quality data obtained by the Central Ground Water Board shows that groundwater in as many as 154 districts across 21 states has arsenic contamination.
  • Climate change: Disturbances in the hydrological cycle causing long spells of floods and droughts adversely affect the quality and quantity of groundwater.
  • Poor knowledge of water management system: The mismatch in demand and supply at the local level represents a large part of the problem in India.

THE WAY FORWARD:

  • Atal Bhujal Yojana– Union Jal Shakti Ministry initiated the Atal Bhujal Yojana in 78 water-stressed districts. Groundwater extraction for irrigation, domestic and industrial uses came down by about 6 billion cubic metres in 2022 from 2020.
  • Use of technologies: Use of technologies allow people to monitor the water available in their borewells.
  • Effective regulation of groundwater pumping: We should have better understanding of our groundwater supply. Adequate funding should be granted towards researching groundwater supply.
  • Chemical Management: By properly disposing of all chemicals, we can prevent the toxic substances from contaminating the water.
  • Wastewater recycling and reuse: Implement a variety of different water recycling techniques.
  • Alternative source of water: Alternative water sources can be used to help replenish aquifers.

THE CONCLUSION:

The emphasis on the use of tubewells and borewells played an important role in ensuring food security. The gravity of the crisis is such that much more is required from the Centre and the states.

PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTIONS:

Q) What are the salient features of the Jal Shakti Abhiyan launched by the Government of India for water conservation and water security? (2020)

Q) Suggest measures to improve water storage and irrigation system to make its judicious use under the depleting scenario. (2020)

MAINS PRACTICE QUESTION:

Q) India’s groundwater situation is much more serious than previously thought. Discuss the statement in context of Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023. Also, discuss the technological and behavioural measures needed to deal with the situation.

SOURCE: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/un-report-on-groundwater-extraction-every-drop-counts-9008120/

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