At 163%, Punjab leads in groundwater extraction : The Tribune India

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At 163%, Punjab leads in groundwater extraction

At 163%, Punjab leads in groundwater extraction

Tribune News Service

Neeraj Mohan

New Delhi, December 21

In a worrisome revelation, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan have emerged as front runners in the alarming trend of depleting groundwater with their “Stage of Groundwater Extraction” (SOE) exceeding 100 per cent. This critical metric signifies the percentage of groundwater utilisation against recharge as highlighted in the Dynamic Ground Water Resource of India report for 2023.

According to the report, the overall SOE for the nation stands at 59.26 per cent. However, Punjab leads with an SOE of 163.76 per cent, followed closely by Rajasthan at 148.77 per cent and Haryana at 135.74 per cent. The UTs of Daman and Diu (170.70 per cent) and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (131.53 per cent) also figure in the list as disclosed in a written reply by Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti Bishweswar Tudu in the Lok Sabha.

The data collected in November 2022 indicated a depth-to-water level ranging from less than 2.0 to more than 40 metres below the ground level.

Expressing concern over the depleting groundwater, Tudu stressed that its scarcity impacted society at large, affecting people across various social strata to varying degrees. While underlining that water was a state subject, Tudu clarified that the responsibility for groundwater development, regulation and management primarily rested with state governments. However, he highlighted the crucial role played by the Central Government in providing technical support and financial assistance through its institutions and centrally sponsored schemes.

In response to the escalating crisis, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has rolled out the Atal Bhujal Yojana in 8,213 water-stressed gram panchayats across seven states.

The Centre is actively addressing the issue through the implementation of the Jal Shakti Abhiyan, where special emphasis is given to rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge. Aquifer mapping and management, completed by March 31 this year, covered approximately 25 lakh sq km of the country. Aquifer maps and management plans are now being shared with states to facilitate appropriate demand-side and supply-side interventions. As the gravity of the situation intensifies, collaborative efforts are imperative to mitigate the adverse effects of groundwater depletion in these critical regions.

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