Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti has called for more awareness on water management, rain water harvesting and artificial recharge through mass awareness programmes. Addressing the meeting of Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to her Ministry in New Delhi on Friday she said for this we should focus more on school and college students who are the future of this country. The Minister said, “In view of indiscriminate withdrawal of ground water for irrigation, industries and domestic purposes leading to over–exploitation of ground water in some areas, there is need of comprehensive policy to address the problem.”
The Minister was of the opinion that ground water governance issues needs to be looked holistically with a changed perspective and there is need to bring the concept of integrated water management in reality. She said the supply and demand side management should go hand in hand to address the depleting ground water levels in various parts of the country. The supply side management incorporates scientific development of ground water resources and finding newer sources by application of advanced techniques as well as adopting ground water augmentation measures by implementing managed aquifer recharge schemes, conjunctive management of surface and ground water. The Minister said regulation of ground water development, enhancing water use efficiency are important measures towards demand side management. Sushri Bharti said, “Growing concern of deterioration in ground water quality especially Arsenic and Fluoride requires intensive monitoring of ground water quality in time and space and also mechanism for sharing of data and information”.
The Minister informed members that her Ministry is promoting rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge measures in the country, by supplementing the efforts of State Governments through technical and financial support under various schemes. She said Demonstrative projects for rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge taken up during VIII, IX and X Plan Period resulted in the annual ground water recharge of 4.0 Million Cubic Meter (MCM), 45.0 MCM and 2.14 MCM respectively. The anticipated recharge from Demonstrative Artificial Recharge Projects implemented during XI plan is likely to be 55.20 MCM. The Minister said priority for Demonstrative Projects was given to the area falling in over exploited blocks. Based on the experiences gained, Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has prepared a conceptual document entitled “Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Ground Water in India” during the year 2013, which envisages construction of different types of Artificial Recharge and Rainwater Harvesting structures in the country in an area of 9,41,541 sq. km by harnessing surplus monsoon runoff to augment ground water resources. The Master Plan has been circulated to all State Governments for guidance. It provides district wise numbers of feasible artificial recharge structures along with their estimated costs.
The Union Minister said her Ministry has embarked on a nationwide programme of Aquifer Mapping. The project is proposed to span over XII and XIII Plan periods. It is proposed to cover around 23.25 lakh sq.km mappable area distributed over various States and Union Territories of the Country. During the XII Plan, an area of 8.89 lakh sq.km is to be mapped in priority areas (i.e., areas showing decline in ground water levels & areas affected by geogenic contamination). Remaining areas will be taken up during XIII Plan period. The aquifer mapping will facilitate participatory ground water management involving local communities.
Sushri Bharti said her Ministry has been pursuing the matter regarding enactment of law on ground water with all States/ UTs. The Model Bill was initially circulated in 1970 which has been re-circulated in 1992, 1996 and 2005 to the States/Union Territories to enable them to enact suitable legislation for regulation and control of ground water development. So far 15 States/UT’s have adopted and implemented the ground water legislation on the lines of Model bill.
While appreciating the efforts of the Ministry the members made several suggestions to check ground water depletion in the country. Some members were of the view that water should be made a central subject. Some others suggested to go for compulsory re-harvesting of water.
CGWB carries out periodic assessment of replenishable ground water resources jointly with the respective State Ground Water Departments. As per the latest assessment (year – 2011), the total annual replenishable ground water resource of the Country is around 433 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) and net annual ground water availability is 398 BCM. The total annual ground water draft is 245 BCM with overall stage of ground water development in the country being 62%. Out of 6607 assessment units (Blocks/ Mandals/ Talukas/ Districts) in the country, 1071 units falling in 16 States and 2 UTs have been categorized as ‘Over-exploited’. There are 217 assessment units which are categorized as ‘Critical’ and 697 assessment units as ‘Semi-Critical’ in the Country. The categorization of assessment units is based on the stage of ground water withdrawal as well as long term decline in ground water levels. Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has notified 162 areas (Districts, Blocks, Mandals, Talukas, Municipal areas, etc.) in the country for regulation of ground water development and management. In these notified areas, installation of new ground water abstraction structures is not permitted without prior specific approval of the Authorized officers. CGWA is regulating ground water withdrawal by industries / infrastructure/ mining projects in Non-Notified areas which are either new or under expansion, for which guidelines/ criteria have been framed. ‘No Objection Certificate (NOC)’ is granted subject to implementation of ground water recharge measures as per the category of the block/ taluka/ mandal/ area. No permission is being accorded to water intensive industries viz. packaged drinking water, mineral water industries, distilleries, breweries, soft drink manufacturing industries, textiles, pulp and paper, etc. in ‘over-exploited’ assessment units.
IndianBureaucracy.com wishes the very best.