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Water levels fell in 61% of India’s wells in last decade, says report by Union ministry

The data, based on monitoring by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), showed that levels fell in 60.7%, rose across 38.8%, and showed no change in 0.5% wells .

mumbai Updated: Apr 09, 2018 11:47 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
The data looked at water levels in 14,465 wells(Representational photo)

Water levels in 61% of the country’s wells fell between 2007 and 2017(pre-monsoon), says data submitted by the Union ministry of water resources in Lok Sabha last week.

The data, based on monitoring by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), looked at water levels in 14,465 wells. Levels fell in 8,785 (60.7%), rose across 5,609 wells (38.8%), and showed no change in 71 (0.5%). The data says Chandigarh and Puducherry saw maximum decline with water levels declining in 90-100% of wells. Tamil Nadu and Punjab followed next at 87% and 85% and states such as Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, all showed a decline of more than 70% during the period.

Minister of state, ministry of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation Arjun Ram Meghwal, who submitted the data, said over exploitation for irrigation purposes was the primary reason for the decline. “While regulation and conservation of ground water is a state subject, the central government is carrying out awareness camps at locations where over exploitation has been identified, both at the urban and rural levels through several schemes. We are telling citizens to harvest rainwater through traditional means,” said Meghwal.

Experts said the data might be limited when comparing the total number of wells in India. “However, it is still representative of the current scenario and surely rings alarm bells. The situation on the ground is far more alarming,” said hydrogeologist Himanshu Kulkarni, director, Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM).

What the central government is doing to control the issue?

Meghwal said a pilot scheme — Atal Bhujal Yojna at Rs6,000 crore — which has received the Union cabinet’s clearance will soon be launched in water-stressed states such as Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. “This will cover 78 districts, 193 blocks and more than 8,300 village panchayats across these seven states,” said Meghwal, adding that the situation was not worrisome and on-ground implementation to tackle the decline was underway. “Along with World Bank, an aquifer (a body of saturated rock through which water can easily move) mapping and management programme has been initiated, which will help us identify areas where there is substantial decline and focus our resources there.”

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 11:08 IST