Urban India might be relishing the fruits of India’s growing economy, but rural India continues to suffer even on basic amenities. For the past seven years, 1.54 lakh Indian villages have lost access to water supply. The reason: depleting underground water level.
A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled in Parliament on Friday said there were only 11.84 lakh villages getting water supply under the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme. About Rs 66,000 crore has been spent since 1950 on the programme. In 2007, the number had fallen to 10.30 lakh. Almost all these villages were getting water through tube-wells.
Most states told the CAG that the “alarming level” of slippage was due to excessive withdrawal of ground water, inadequate maintenance of tube-wells and lack of sustaining of water resources.
The report, while highlighting that 85 per cent of rural India is dependent on ground water, said environmental degradation and poor recharge are making most underground sources “defunct”. It said substantial slip-backs were revealed in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
The Centre’s initiative to make it mandatory for people to recharge underground water has remained unimplemented. As many as 19 states have failed to implement its model law to recharge under ground water, the report said.
About 14 states have failed to conduct periodical assessment of underground water situation on a scientific basis. Twenty states have not made ground water re-charge a mandatory requirement, the report said.