GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Environment Conservation
Source: Indian Express, PIB
Direction: Water is always an important and favourite topic of UPSC. Always have notes prepared on the different aspects of water use.
Context: An assessment report on groundwater by the Central ground water board and States/UTs was released recently. (Under Ministry of Jal Shakti)
- India is the largest user of Groundwater (GW) ( accounting for 1/4th of total withdrawal)
- 87% of GW is used for Irrigation
- Status: GW extraction has declined and the number of over-exploited units (extraction > recharge) has decreased.
- Currently, 67% of GW units are safe (extraction< 70% of recharge), 14% Overexploited and 4% at the Critical
- Extraction is very high in Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan etc.
Reasons for use of ground waters in irrigation;-
- Erratic monsoon; – Successive droughts and erratic rainfall have led to excess extraction of groundwater.
- Subsidy: Low prices or free electricity offers an incentive for the unchecked lifting of groundwater. The vast majority of groundwater pumps are unmetered, and if charged, are billed at a flat, non-volumetric, and highly subsidized tariff.
- Green revolution: Green Revolution caused the overuse of groundwater.
- Water-intensive crops: Government encourages farmers to produce water-intensive crops like rice and sugarcane through increased minimum support prices (MSP).
Problems associated with such rampant use: –
- Lowering of the water table: The World Bank predicts that by 2032, around 60 per cent of aquifers in the country will be in a critical state.
- Reduction of water in streams and lakes: A substantial amount of the water flowing in rivers comes from the seepage of groundwater into the streambed. Depletion of groundwater levels may reduce water flow in such streams.
- Land subsidence: A lack of groundwater limits biodiversity and dangerous sinkholes result from depleted aquifers.
- Increased costs for the user: As the depleting groundwater levels lower the water table, the user has to delve deep to extract water. This will increase the cost of water extraction.
- Deterioration of water quality: Groundwater that is deep within the ground often intermingles with saltwater that we shouldn’t drink.
- Saltwater contamination can occur. For instance in the western part of the country.
- Interrupts water cycle: Groundwater depletion interrupts the ‘natural’ water cycle putting disproportionately more water into the sea.
- Impacts food security: As large aquifers are depleted, the food supply and people will suffer.
Concept of Participatory irrigation management (PIM)
PIM is hinged around developing cooperation with and involvement of farmers in the operation, management, and maintenance of the irrigation systems at secondary and tertiary levels through the “Water User Associations” (WUAs).
One Water Approach:
The effective answer to the groundwater crisis is to integrate conservation and development activities, from water extraction to water management, at the local level; making communities aware and involving them fully is therefore critical for success.
Growing water crisis and One water Approach (OWA)
Q. Bring out the problems associated with groundwater irrigation in India. Critically analyse the role of Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) in improving agricultural production on a sustainable basis. (15M)
Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2015)
- The Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme was launched during 1996-97 to provide loan assistance to poor farmers.
- The Command Area Development Programme was launched in 1974-75 for the development of water-use efficiency,
Which of the statements given above is/ are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
The Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) was launched in 1996 as a central assistance programme, with the aim to accelerate the creation of irrigation potential.
The Command Area Development (CAD) programme was initiated in 1974-75 with a view to bridging the gap between the potential created and its utilisation and optimising agricultural productivity through better management of land and water use in the command areas served by selected major and medium irrigation projects.