Water Crisis : Depletion in Ground Water Level

Ground water is continuously being exploited due to growth in population, increased industrialization and irrigation and its use being highly inefficient, has resulted in decline of ground water levels in various parts of the Country. Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) under the Ministry of Water Resources, RD & GR carries out ground water monitoring, four times a year, on regional scale through a network of observation wells in the Country including Haryana and Punjab. Water level data for pre-monsoon 2015 compared with decadal mean of pre-monsoon (2005-2014) indicates decline in ground water level in 47% of the wells monitored.

A Model Bill on Flood Plain Zoning was circulated to all the States in 1975 for guidance of States for enactment of legislation. The Model Bill provides for flood zoning authorities, surveys and delineation of flood plain area, notification of limits of flood plains, prohibition or restriction of the use of the flood plains, compensation and power to remove obstruction etc. Govt. of Manipur has enacted flood plain zoning legislation in 1978, but the demarcation of flood zones has not been done, as yet. The State of Rajasthan has also enacted legislation. The State Government of Uttarakhand has also passed Flood Plain Zoning Act on 16th December, 2012 but the demarcation of flood zones has not been done, as yet. Some States like Bihar and UP have informed about difficulties in implementation of Bill due to large flood affected plain areas. No fund has been allocated / released for mapping of flood affected areas.

Following steps have been taken to check depletion of river and ground water:-

• CWC has issued an advisory on 12th April, 2016 to the concerned Engineer-in-Chief of State Governments regarding judicious use of available water in view of low storage position of reservoirs in 2016.

• As per Schedule-I of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the water conservation and water harvesting structures to augment ground water constitute a special focus area for MGNREGA works.

• During XI Plan, Demonstrative Artificial Recharge Projects were taken up under Central Sector Scheme “Ground Water Management & Regulation”. The scheme on Artificial Recharge project under Ground Water Management & Regulation Scheme has been discontinued during the XII Plan period.

• A conceptual document entitled “Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Ground Water in India” has been prepared during the year 2013, which envisages construction of different types of Artificial Recharge and Rainwater Harvesting structures in the Country in an area of 9,41,541 sq.km for harnessing surplus monsoon runoff to augment ground water resources. The Master Plan has been circulated to all State Governments for implementation.

• Ministry of Urban Development in its Draft Model Building Bye-Laws (2015) has incorporated a Chapter on Provision of Rain Water Harvesting.

• Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) constituted under ‘The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986’ for the purpose of regulation and control of ground water development and management has issued advisory to States/ Union Territories and Ministry of Urban Development to take necessary measures for adopting rain water harvesting/ artificial recharge in all the Government buildings. Besides, 30 States/UTs have made rainwater harvesting mandatory by enacting laws / formulating rules & regulations / by including provisions in building bye-laws / through suitable Government Orders etc.

• CGWB has been organizing mass awareness programmes in the Country to promote rain water harvesting and artificial recharge to ground water.

This information was given by Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.

Water Crisis

The average annual per capita water availability in the country, as per 2011 census, was 1545 cubic meters; it is estimated to go down to 1340 cubic meters by the year 2025. State wise details of per capita water availability in the country are not maintained by the Central Government.

The availability of water resources is limited, but demand for water in the country is increasing due to increasing population, industrialization, urbanization and changing lifestyle. As a result water has become a relatively scarce resource in some areas of the country. A per-capita water availability of less than 1700 cubic meters is considered as water stressed condition, whereas per-capita water availability below 1000 cubic meters is considered as a water scarcity condition.

Several measures for meeting water crisis through augmenting, conserving and using water resources more efficiently are undertaken by the State Governments. The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation provides technical and financial assistance to the State Governments in this regard through various schemes and programmes viz. Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme, Scheme for Repair, Renovation & Restoration of Water-bodies etc.

Central Ground Water Board, under this Ministry has prepared a conceptual document entitled “Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Ground Water in India” during the year 2013 envisaging construction of 1.11 crore Rainwater Harvesting and Artificial Recharge structures in the country to harness 85 BCM (Billion Cubic Meters) of water. The augmented ground water resources will enhance the availability of water for drinking, domestic, industrial and irrigation purposes. The Master Plan has been circulated to all State Governments for implementation.

Water conservation and water harvesting structures to augment ground water constitute a special focus area for MGNREGA works and about 2/3rd of the expenditure is directly related to construction of such structures.Central Government has launched the National Water Mission with the objective of conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources development and management.

The National Water Policy, 2012 has been formulated which has made several recommendations for conservation, development and improved management of water resources in the country. Jal Kranti Abhiyan (2015-16 to 2017-18) has been launched in order to consolidate water conservation and management in the country through a holistic and integrated approach involving all stakeholders, making it a mass movement.

Recycle and reuse of water, after treatment to specified standards as well as rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge are being incentivized through various initiatives, programmes/ schemes of the Government. Improved water use efficiency in different sectors such as in irrigation (through micro-irrigation, e.g., drip, sprinkler etc.), industry and households is being encouraged through various initiatives, programmes/ schemes of the Government.

This Ministry has also formulated a National Perspective Plan (NPP) envisaging inter-basin transfer of water. The implementation of NPP would give benefits of approximately 35 million hectare of additional irrigation potential and 34000 mega watts (MW) hydro power generation apart from the incidental benefits of flood moderation, navigation, drinking and industrial water supply, fisheries, salinity and pollution control etc.

This information was given by Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Prof. Sanwar Lal Jat in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.

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