Preserving the precious: On ground water use

Source– The post is based on the article “Preserving the precious: On ground water use ” published in The Hindu on 14th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Environment

Relevance: Groundwater conservation related

News– The article explains the issues related to management of groundwater.

What do the facts reveal?

According to a report by the Ministry of Water Resources, the total annual groundwater recharge is, 437.60 billion cubic metres. The quantity extracted out of it was 239.16 bcm

The 2022 assessment suggests that groundwater extraction is the lowest since 2004, when it was 231 BCM. The above facts reveal that a decrease in groundwater extraction may indicate better water management.

However, National Compilation on Dynamic Ground water Resources of India says that the improvement is only marginal. It may be explained by natural conditions and changes in methodology by the Central Ground Water Board and States, which conduct the survey.

Also, the percentage of blocks where the groundwater was ‘critically’ low was around 14%. It is roughly similar to that in previous years.

What are the Regional consumption trends?

Firstly, regions with the most blocks with critical groundwater levels are in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh. Despite replenishable systems, indiscriminate groundwater withdrawal in these regions has depressed the water table.

Secondly, other endangered blocks are in Rajasthan and Gujarat.Here arid climate has limited the groundwater recharge.

Finally,  in parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, groundwater availability is low due to inherent characteristics of crystalline water-storing aquifers.

What are challenges to  groundwater management?

At present,there is no central law governing the use of groundwater.

Various States have their own laws on regulating its extraction. These are deployed in a perfunctory manner.

What is the way forward?

Water ought not to be considered a free, private resource but one whose costs must be measured and borne equitably.

The climate crisis should inspire consensus across the political spectrum on disincentivizing wasteful consumption of this precious resource.

A draft National Water Policy recommends a shift in usage from water-guzzling crops and prioritising recycling over freshwater for industrial purposes.

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