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Groundwater crisis

Topics Covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Groundwater crisis


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Groundwater crisis- causes, extent, concerns, challenges and measures by govt to save groundwater.


Context: Expressing concern over depleting groundwater levels, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has set up a committee to formulate steps required to prevent illegal extraction of groundwater.


Why conserve groundwater?

  • Groundwater reserves are already under pressure as the global population explodes and crop production rises in lockstep.
  • Extreme weather events such as drought and record rainfall — have both made worse by our heating planet — could have another long-lasting impact on how quickly reserves replenish.
  • Only half of all groundwater supplies are likely to fully replenish or re-balance within the next 100 years — potentially leading to shortages in drier areas. 
  • The process through which rainwater is filtered through bedrock and accumulated underground can take centuries and varies greatly by region.
  • As climate change delivers longer droughts and bigger superstorms, the extremes of rainfall become more pronounced, impacting groundwater reserves for generations to come.


Situation of groundwater in India:

Today, India is the largest user of the groundwater in the world with almost 90% being used for drinking water and almost 60-70% for irrigation. Current statistics also show that nearly 50% of urban water supply comes from groundwater. India is on the threshold of a very serious groundwater crisis, which needs mitigation both in the fields and at the policy corridors of the country.


Need of the hour:

There is a need to modernise the regulatory framework for accessing groundwater soon after massive expansion in mechanical pumping led to the realisation that recharge could not keep pace with use.


Sources: the hindu.