Rashi Aditi Ghosh/Zee Research Group
Water security is widely recognized as one of the major challenges to India’s economic and social development. Despite numerous replenishing measures, the ground water level in India has recorded a continual decline.
According to latest report by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), 55 percent of the wells in India have registered declining trend of ground water level. Surprisingly, wells in Delhi and Andhra Pradesh have registered highest declining trend of ground water level during 2007-2012.
While 85 percent of wells in Delhi registered a decline in ground water level, 74 percent of wells in Andhra Pradesh registered a decline in ground water level during 2007-2012.
CGWB generated the data after analyzing 11024 wells in the pre-monsoon period (April/May) during the last five years (2007–2012).
Explaining the major causes for declining trend of ground water level in states like Delhi, Nitya Jacob, programme director (water programme) at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi said, “ Delhi suffers from highest decline of ground water level because it has got a huge built up area and most areas do not get supply water. This leads to the over exploitation of available ground water resources.”
Sadly, groundwater that accounts for over 65 percent of irrigation water and 85 percent of drinking water supplies lies in a critical state. The report by CGWB further suggested that at majority of the locations in India, water level has declined at the rate of 1 meter/ year.
Talking about the failure of collective approach towards replenishing ground water level in India, Paul Wyrwoll, Editor at Global Water Forum and an environmental economist at the Australian National University said, “Unsustainable groundwater depletion is a very serious issue and it is a very difficult problem to address. Groundwater is a classic example of a ‘public good’ -a resource where it is difficult to exclude potential users and it is not in the self-interest of the individual to use the resource in a collectively beneficial manner: if one user reduces the volume of water they withdraw the overall impact will be minimal.”
Jacob at CSE suggested a change of approach to improve the declining ground water level in India.
“To curb down the over exploitation of ground water level, it is important to adopt proper usage of rain water harvesting. In order to bring a change CSE provides technical assistance and knowledge to people for initiating rain water harvesting projects,” he added.