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India ranks 120 among 122 countries in Water Quality Index; 70% contaminated
Wednesday, 11 December, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
“Composite Water Management Index,” a report published by Niti Aayog in June 2018, mentions that India is undergoing the worst water crisis in its history and nearly 600 million people are facing high to extreme water stress. The report mentions that India is placed at 120th amongst 122 countries in the Water Quality Index, with nearly 70% of water being contaminated.

As per the 5th Minor Irrigation Census (with reference year 2013-14) conducted by Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (now Ministry of Jal Shakti), there are 20.52 million wells in the country, which includes dug wells, shallow tube wells, medium tube wells and deep tube wells. On the other hand, Niti Aayog figures include only shallow, medium and deep tube wells and do not include dug wells.

Water Tables
Further, the Niti Aayog report has mentioned that 21 major cities are expected to run out of groundwater by 2020. This is based on the estimates of annual groundwater replenishment and its extraction. However, it does not take into account the groundwater availability in the deeper aquifers.

Practices for efficient and sustainable management of water resources such as conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater resources, participatory groundwater practices, increasing water use efficiency amongst others need to be promoted on a large scale by involving all the stakeholders to deal with future water demand challenges.

Government of India launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan which is a time-bound campaign with a mission mode approach intended to improve water availability including groundwater conditions in the water stressed blocks of 256 districts in India. In this regard, teams of officers from Central government along with technical officers from Ministry of Jal Shakti were deputed to visit water stressed districts and to work in close collaboration with district level officials to undertake suitable interventions.

Water being a state subject, efforts to conserve and manage groundwater is primarily states’ responsibility. A number of states have done notable work in this regard. Of these, mention can be made of ‘Mukhyamantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan’ in Rajasthan, ‘Jalyukt Shibar’ in Maharashtra, ‘Sujalam Sufalam Abhiyan’ in Gujarat, ‘Mission Kakatiya’ in Telangana, ‘Neeru Chettu’ in Andhra Pradesh among others.

The Central government supports construction of water harvesting and conservation works primarily through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana – Watershed Development Component (PMKSY-WDC).

Also, as per Ministry of Rural Development, 19,64,995 water conservation and water harvesting works have been completed in different states under MGNREGS during the period 2014-15 to 2019-20 with cumulative expenditure of Rs 31907.32 crore as uploaded by the states in Management Information System.

Also, as per Ministry of Rural Development, Department of Land Resources, 6,08,384 water harvesting structures have been created/rejuvenated in different states under PMKSY-WDC component during the period 2014-15 to 2019-20 (upto September 2019). Further, as on Oct 31, 2019, Rs 17751.75 crore have been released to states as Central share for implementation of watershed development projects.

Aquifer Mapping
Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) is implementing ‘National Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme’ (NAQUIM) for aquifer mapping in the country including in areas which have recorded a high depletion of groundwater, in phases. Out of the total mappable area of nearly 25 lakh sq km, so far aquifer maps and management plans have been prepared for an area of nearly 11.24 lakh sq km spread over various parts of the country. As per the groundwater resource assessment carried out jointly by CGWB and state groundwater departments, 1,186 assessment units in the country have been categorised as over-exploited, of which aquifer mapping has been completed in nearly 75% units.

This information was given by Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti & Social Justice and Empowerment Rattan Lal Kataria in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on Monday.
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