[Answered] Provide a general account of groundwater usage in India. What measures are required to conserve groundwater?

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write about groundwater usage in India. Also write some measures required to conserve groundwater.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

India is the largest user of Groundwater (GW) and 87% of GW is used for Irrigation. Recently the Ministry of Jal Shakti released the “Dynamic Ground Water Resource Assessment Report” for the entire country for the year 2022. The assessment was carried out jointly by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and States/UTs.

Groundwater usage in India:

  • The 2022 assessment suggests that groundwater extraction (16 bcm) is the lowest since 2004. A decrease in groundwater extraction may indicate better water management
  • Improvement in groundwater conditions in 909 assessment units in the country compared with 2017 assessment data.
  • The total annual groundwater recharge for the entire country is 437.60 billion cubic meters (BCM).
  • The groundwater extraction is very high in the states of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu where it is more than 100%.
  • The groundwater extraction is between 60-100% in the states of Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and UTs of Chandigarh, Lakshadweep and Puducherry.
  • In the rest of the states, the groundwater extraction is below 60%.

Measures to conserve groundwater: 

  • Dedicated law: There is no central law governing the use of groundwater and various States have their own laws on regulating its extraction that are deployed in a perfunctory manner.
  • A draft National Water Policy has recommended a shift in usage from water-guzzling crops and prioritising recycled over freshwater for industrial purposes.
  • To improve the water table in those areas where it is being overused, on-farm water management techniques and improved irrigation methods should be adopted. E.g. Methods for artificial recharge of groundwater.
  • Traditional methods of water conservation should be encouraged to minimize the depletion of water resources. E.g water from house run off is an excellent source of irrigation.
  • The agricultural power-pricing structure needs to be revamped as the flat rate of electricity adversely affects the use of groundwater.
  • There should be a policy in place to monitor the excessive exploitation of groundwater resources to ensure long-term sustainability. E.g. Water meters could be installed to monitor overuse.

Groundwater depletion is becoming an alarming issue day by day. Leveraging schemes like Atal Bhujal Yojana which seeks to strengthen the institutional framework and bring about behavioural changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management is vital.

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