Bundelkhand likely to become water-scarce region by 2030: Study
Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh’s perennially parched region, may turn into a water-scarce region by the year 2030, leading to further migration of the agrarian population towards other cities and districts in search of livelihood if the current groundwater situation continues to prevail there, alerts a latest study commissioned by the state government.
“Several other studies have also documented the fact that the region is moving towards water scarcity (less than 1000 cubic metres per capita) from a water-stress level (less than 1,700 cu.m. per capita). By 2030, Bundelkhand is projected to be a water-scarce region if the current situation prevails,” says the ‘Vision Document for Bundelkhand,’ prepared jointly by the ‘2030 Water Resources Group’ and Thinkthrough Consulting Pvt Ltd for the UP government as its resource partners.
The study has found that despite the presence of Central and state level schemes, funding allocations and a host of international institutions, climate change and monsoon failures have repeatedly caused droughts in Bundelkhand. “This has also led to a significant decline in the groundwater level thereby pushing farmers and the community to migrate away from the region,” it says.
The Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh lies between the Yamuna and the northern part of the Vindhyan plains. It comprises seven districts, including Banda, Chitrakoot, Hamirpur, Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur, and Mahoba. The region is spread over an area of 29,000 sq km with a population of 78 lakh and receives water from perennial rivers including Yamuna, Ken, Betwa, Sindh and Pahuj.
“A report from the CII-Triveni Water Institute assessed the water situation in Jhansi district and found that the region is extremely dependent on regular rainfall and that one bad rainfall year will push the district towards a water scarce level” reveals the Vision Document on Integrated Sustainable Water Management through Multi-Stakeholder Partnership.
Over 75% of the population, the study says, depends on agriculture for primary livelihoods, with 96% of the income generated from agriculture and livestock collectively.
With the region being a rainfed area, water availability, agriculture and livelihoods significantly depend on rainfall which has progressively decreased over the past decade leading to several droughts. “In the last 13 years there has been a drastic reduction in annual average rainfall in Bundelkhand by 40%, with 60% decline in rainfall in the last 5 years,” the Vision Document points out.
Quoting a study conducted by the Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) and Jan Kendrit Vikas Manch (a network of NGOs in Bundelkhand), the document says, the indiscriminate felling of trees, excessive chemical fertiliser use and soil erosion have also increasingly degraded the traditional water storage structures and conspicuously reduced the water storage capacity of the region. In addition, the rocky terrain consisting of granite and elevated slope of the region also acts as an impediment for effective ground water recharge during the monsoon, it adds.
“The implementation of the measures suggested in the Vision Document For Bundelkhand are underway,” director, groundwater, VK Upadhyaya said. “The government has decided to operationalise its approach towards integrated water resources management in Bundelkhand through a pilot project aimed at demonstrating the benefits of following a participatory and integrated approach towards water resources management,” he said.
According to the study, it is also evident from the past that the region has been at the receiving end of severe meteorological, hydrological and agricultural drought which could further endure if a participatory and integrated approach is not adopted towards rebuilding Bundelkhand as a progressive and water-efficient region.
Giving a countrywide picture, the study says that India accounts for 16% of the world’s population, but only 4% of the world’s fresh water resources. Based on the 2011 census, the projected per capita availability of water was 1,545 cu.m for 2015 against the global average of 1,700 cu.m, thereby indicating the water stress level of the country.
The Central Water Commission has further reiterated that the per capita availability of water will decline to 1,306 cu.m and 1,174 cu.m by 2030 and 2050 respectively which is not far-off from the water-stress level of 1,000 cu.m. Uttar Pradesh is richest in both available surface and groundwater resources with more than 64% share in the region. Uttarakhand and Punjab are the second most abundant states followed by Himachal Pradesh.
Among the states, per capita water availability is highest in Himachal Pradesh and least in Haryana and Delhi. While per capita water availability in Uttar Pradesh is below average, per unit land water availability is highest in state, followed by Uttarakhand and Punjab.
Maximum cumulative increase in residential water requirement is observed for Bihar and least for Kerala. Along with Kerala, below 100 increase in water requirement is noted for Punjab, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Other states likely to show a very high increase in cumulative water requirement for mid-century time period are Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Haryana.
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