Water Security & Groundwater -The invisible vital resource. Stop its illegal mining?
Water Security & Groundwater – The invisible vital resource.
Groundwater essentially remains ungoverned. How do stop its illegal mining?
Water security is now widely recognised as one of the major challenges to India’s economic and social development. Groundwater management is key to survival of India.
Groundwater is a critical resource in India, accounting for over 65% of irrigation water and 85% of drinking water supplies.
We have over- exploited the groundwater to the extent that our generation has started mining the water which should have been earmarked and preserved for our “Grand Children”.
India is Largest Groundwater use of world
India is the largest groundwater user in the world, with an estimated usage of around 230 cubic kilometers per year, more than a quarter of the global total. Groundwater is vital for poverty alleviation and economic growth in India; more than 60 percent of irrigated agriculture in the country is dependent on groundwater, and a significant proportion of rural and urban domestic water supply is derived from it. The phenomenal growth in the exploitation of groundwater has largely been through the construction of millions of private wells, and hence has been curiously furtive in nature – the private tapping of a concealed resource, away from public oversight and government regulation. There is an urgent need to change the status quo. The rapidly falling groundwater tables in many parts of India present serious and immediate human development and economic challenges.
Unprecedented level of over exploitation and mining
India presents a unique case, with a globally unprecedented level of exploitation of groundwater bodies in a wide range of settings, requiring the formulation of adaptable, context-specific solutions. The issue of power subsidies to farmers has undoubtedly been a major driver of Ground water exploitation and requires careful handling. Politically pragmatic resolution of the energy–groundwater nexus is important for ensuring the viability and sustainability of both groundwater-based agriculture and the electricity sector in India
Unsustainable groundwater depletion is a very serious issue. Groundwater is a classic example of a ‘public good’ – a resource where it is difficult to exclude potential users and it is not in the self-interest of the individual to use the resource in a collectively beneficial manner:
In India, however, it would seem almost impossible for the national government to manage the estimated 30 million groundwater extraction structures already in existence.
Certain guiding principles to prevent further over exploitation and mining of water
- Community-based groundwater management
- Participatory engagement should be the core focus of community-based groundwater management investments.
- Community-based groundwater management needs state engagement
- Pragmatic policies can strengthen community-based groundwater management
- Promoting conjunctive use in agriculture.
- Integrating groundwater in urban water supply planning.
- Targeted regulation of groundwater use
- Technical and political solutions to agricultural power pricing
- Develop credible mechanisms that can directly influence groundwater development & use
- Failing the Millennium Development Goals for drinking water
- Deteriorating livelihoods, food security, and agricultural productivity
- Environmental degradation
- Climate change
The link from water to food security and health in India compels urgent solutions to the unsustainable levels of demand for its dwindling groundwater supplies.
The views expressed in this article are purely personal.
Twitter : @TheManojRawat