Nearly 22 percent of the groundwater (assessed units) in India has either dried up or is in the ‘critical’ and ‘overexploited’ categories, mentioned Union Jal Shakti (water resources) minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as he emphasised the need to focus on the efficient use of water resources.
With the yearly extraction of groundwater in these units exceeding annual replenishment, Shekhawat revealed that it’s the moment when the country needs to acts to improve ‘demand-side’ management by taking multiple measures instead of only managing the‘supply-side’ of resources.
Quoting figures from the ‘Dynamic Ground Water Resources of India’ report which shows 1,499 out of 6,881 assessed units (blocks/mandals/taluks) in 2017 came under ‘over-exploited’ and ‘critical’ categories taken together, Shekhawat informed, that agriculture sector consumes nearly 89% of available water resources in India.
“We really need to help farmers and create awareness among them so that they can move towards water use efficiency measures such as drip and sprinkler irrigation. We can take lessons from countries like Israel which have made tremendous progress in this direction,” said Shekhawat.
The minister, who was a part of the biennial WATEC conference in Israel, stated that there were many things which India could learn from Israel’s experience and replicate taking into consideration local conditions and traditional ways of water conservation. “If we could save 10% of the water in agriculture now, it will make water available for all users in the country for the next 50 years,” said the minister while emphasising on both demand and supply sides management of water.
Talking about ongoing measures of the country, he said the works on aquifer (underground layer of water-bearing rock) mapping has been going on at full pace to delineate and characterise the groundwater aquifers and develop suitable management plans. “Aquifer mapping of all 256 water stressed districts (nearly 5,500 blocks) will be completed by March next year. It will help us make farmers and other users aware of water availability in their villages and tell them how they should use it,” said Shekhawat.