Following are the important highlights of a publication titled “Ground Water Crisis in India” (By: Paul Wyrwoll, Australian National University, Australia, 30th July, 2012. The article is available at: http://www.globalwaterforum.org/2012/07/30/indias-groundwater-crisis/). It has been compiled by the Climate Change community of UN Solution Exchange India and reproduced here:
Important Highlights of Publication
- The average annual rainfall in India is extremely abundant by global standards, yet much of this rain falls in relatively brief deluges during the monsoon and there is significant disparity across different regions.
- The farmers, households and industry increasingly depend on groundwater rather than surface water leading to deterioration in the nation’s groundwater resources.
- The first two months of the 2012 monsoon have seen remarkably weak rainfall and existing groundwater bores in many areas can no longer be relied on to fulfill the demand.
- Extreme water shortages are currently widespread in major cities, as they were across the country during the 2009 drought.
- Groundwater accounts for over 65% of irrigation water and 85% of drinking water supplies.
- Around 60% of groundwater sources will be in a critical state of degradation within the next twenty years.
- In the most seriously affected north-western states, recent satellite measurements indicate an average decline of 33 cm per year from 2002 to 2008.
- Local observations of annual water table decline exceeding 4 metres are common throughout India.
- More than 70% of India’s surface water resources are polluted by human waste or toxic chemicals.
- In Delhi, the local government estimates that 40% of the water transmitted through the mains system is lost through leakages.
- In rural areas, electricity subsidies allowing farmers to pump groundwater cheaply have become entrenched in the political landscape.
- It is projected that agricultural water demand in India by 2030 would double to 1,200 billion m3 if these inefficient practices continued.
- Ground water in certain areas frequently displays higher levels of arsenic, fluoride and other harmful chemicals.
- It is difficult to regulate the estimated 25 million groundwater extraction structures already in existence in India.
- The difficulties of regulation and collective management of India’s groundwater resources have been overwhelming and are a fundamental cause of the state of crisis.
- A comprehensive World Bank study proposed that “bottom-up” community based water management is required.
- There is a need to focus on community level groundwater recharge and the use of communally managed alternatives to groundwater, such as small storage areas.
By: Dr. Ramesh Jalan, UNSE, New Delhi India
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