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India's ground water table to dry up in 15 years

Last updated: 06 March, 2010
Ajith Athrady, New Delhi, Mar 7, DH News Service:

World Bank report calls for immediate corrective measures

About 60 per cent of aquifers in India will be in a critical condition in another 15 years if the trend of indiscriminate exploitation of ground water continues, the World Bank has said in a report.

It’s only going to get worse. DH photoIn its latest report on the country’s ground water level, the bank has expressed concern over the rate of depletion of water table in the country and has called for immediate corrective measures.

Around 29 per cent of ground water blocks in the country are semi-critical, critical or overexploited and the situation is deteriorating rapidly. By 2025, an estimated 60 per cent of ground water blocks will be in a critical condition. Climate change will further strain ground water resources, the report said.

India is the largest user of ground water in the world, with an estimated use of 230 cubic km of ground water every year––more than a quarter of the global level. Now,  ground water supports around 60 per cent of irrigated agriculture and more than 80 per cent of rural and urban water supplies.


“Out of a total of 5,723 ground water blocks in the country, 1,615 are classified as semi-critical, critical or overexploited, and regulatory directives have been issued by the Central Ground Water Authority for 108 blocks.  However, neither the authority nor the state ground water agencies have the resources or the personnel to oversee the enforcement of these regulations.”

Among its several suggestions to prevent over exploitation and promote sustainable use of ground water, the report calls for community management of ground water wherein the user community is the primary custodian of ground water and is charged with implementing management measures.

About urban water supply planning, the report said: “There is a need to move from opportunistic exploitation of ground water resources to a more systematic evaluation of the status of urban ground water use and the contribution it can make to meeting future demand.

“Pricing measures, including volumetric charges, taxes and user fees, can act as incentives to conservation and more efficient allocation of water resources, provided they address concerns of equity and affordibility to the poor,”  the report said.

The report titled was initiated to identify practical and politically feasible strategies for managing ground water use in India.

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