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Groundwater reserves - Shanmugam IAS academy in coimbatore
Groundwater reserves


What’s in news?

The Union Water Ministry is finalising an updated estimate on the state of groundwater reserves in India.

Key data’s:

  • Survey samples a sliver of blocks in each State and counts how many blocks have critically low levels of water
  • Previously the groundwater assessment, done in 2013, is a survey that samples a sliver of blocks in each State and counts how many blocks have critically low levels of water and how many are well-stocked.
  • After formation of the new government, the reports from the states regard their groundwater reserve made public.
  • “Some States” showed a precipitous decline in groundwater reserves whereas some blocks showed an “improvement” in the groundwater reserves in their respective states.
  • An assessment from Punjab pointed to “extreme” overexploitation of groundwater.
  • The overall contribution of rainfall to the country’s annual ground water resource is 68%.
  • The share of other resources, such as canal seepage, return flow from irrigation, recharge from tanks, ponds and water conservation structures taken together is 32%.

Previous reports:

  • In 2013, Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) assessed 6,584 units across the country and among them found 4,520 units to be “safe,” 681 units to be “semi-critical” 253 units to be “critical” and 1,034 units to be “overexploited.” About 96 blocks were “saline”.
  • In 2015, out of natural runoff waters in rivers is about 1,869 Billion Cubic Meter (BCM)/year. Out of 1869 BCM/year, only 1,123 BCM/year is usable. This limitation is due to, geographical limitation and water being unequally distributed in various river basins, making it difficult to extract all the available 1,869 BCM/year.
  • Out of the 1,123 BCM/year, the shares of surface water and groundwater are 690 BCM/year and 433 BCM/year respectively. Setting aside 35 BCM for natural discharge, the net annual ground water availability for the entire country is 398 BCM.

Way forward:

  • India’s groundwater has been depleting at a worrying rate since 1995, the CGWB has shown. In 1995, only 3% of districts had overexploited their groundwater reserves whereas by 2011, that had increased to 15%.
  • Government has to take serious steps to save the depleting ground water.

How the Groundwater is important?

  • Groundwater is one of the Nation’s most important natural resources.
  • Groundwater is the source of about 33 percent of the water that county and city water departments supply to households and businesses.
  • Groundwater is an especially important natural resource in those parts of the country that don’t have ample surface-water sources, such as the arid West.
  • It often takes more work and costs more to access groundwater as opposed to surface water, but where there is little water on the land surface, groundwater can supply the water needs of people.

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