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Alarming situation

According to a recent study by NASA, Groundwater depletion in India is said to be the worst in the world.  Groundwater is disappearing fast from the world and India is among the worst hit, shows data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites.Among the world’s largest groundwater basins, the Indus Basin aquifer of India and Pakistan, which is a source of fresh water for millions of people, is the second-most overstressed with no natural replenishment to offset usage.India’s north-western region is widely considered to be the country’s food source. States such as Punjab and Haryana account for a large share of the country’s agricultural output and farm incomes. However, farming in both these regions is increasingly becoming unsustainable, owing to fast depleting groundwater levels. 

The situation is equally precarious in the south-eastern parts of the country. Both these regions account for most of India’s groundwater-stressed blocks. Use of groundwater for irrigation exploded after Green Revolution. Increasing access to electricity in India’s farmlands was primarily responsible for this explosion. Overexploitation of the groundwater for various purposes and inadequate recharge is putting enormous stress on the groundwater situation and over a quarter of the blocks in India have been classified as stressed or critical.India’s water crisis is predominantly a manmade problem. India’s climate is not particularly dry, nor is it lacking in rivers and groundwater. 

Extremely poor management, unclear laws, government corruption, and industrial and human waste have caused this water supply crunch and rendered what water is available practically useless due to the huge quantity of pollution.Agriculture is the dominant sector in groundwater utilization with over 90% of withdrawal going towards this sector. Here, there is <g data-gr-id="30">inefficient</g> use of water due to factors like lack of canal irrigation, free power, inadequate knowledge and cropping of varieties unsuitable to the area. The last factor is a major endemic cause for <g data-gr-id="32">depletion</g> of ground water. .A majority of irrigation (over 60%), rural drinking water (over 75%) and urban drinking water (50%) is sourced from groundwater. 

This depletion of ground water poses a growing threat to the nation’s food security.There will be constant competition and conflict over water, between farming families and urban dwellers, poor living off natural resources and entrepreneurs, between various states.Rivers and wetlands that depend on groundwater for base flows can dry up as well.Another pertinent danger is that aquifers that are located near coastlines can experience saltwater intrusion, rendering balance groundwater useless. Perhaps it’s high time that the current ruling dispensation took notice of this and took corrective measures. The need of the hour is an equitable distribution of water to different segments with a penalty on overuse, discontinuing the policy of providing free water and implementing reuse and recycling of consumed water including rainwater harvesting.
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