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Ground Water Development

The total annual replenishable ground water resources of the country have been assessed as 433 billion cubic meter (BCM). Existing gross ground water draft as on March 2004 for all uses is 231 BCM per year. The stage of ground water development is about 58%. The development of ground water in different areas of the country has not been uniform. Highly intensive development of ground water in certain areas in the country has resulted in over exploitation leading to decline in the levels of ground water and sea water intrusion in coastal areas. There is a continuous increase in dark and over-exploited areas in the country.

As per the latest assessment of ground water resources carried out jointly by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and the States, the assessment units are categorized as 'over exploited'/'critical' and 'semi-critical' based on the stage of ground water development and the long-term water level declining trend during the past decade (1995-2004). Out of 5,723 assessment units (Blocks/Mandals/Talukas) in the country, 839 units in various States have been categorized as 'over exploited', i.e., the annual ground water extraction exceeds the annual replenishable resource. In addition, 226 units are 'critical', i.e., the stage of ground water development is above 90 per cent and less than 100 per cent of annual replenishable resource with significant decline in long term water level trend in both pre-monsoon and post-monsoon period. There are 550 semi-critical units, where the stage of ground water development is more than 70 per cent. List of these areas has been circulated to the State Pollution Control Boards and the Ministry of Environment and Forests which refer the new industries/projects falling in these areas to the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) for obtaining clearance for ground water withdrawal.

The CGWA has so far notified 43 over-exploited areas in the country for regulation of ground water development and management. For enforcement of the regulatory directions issued under Section 5 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, concerned Deputy Commissioners/District Magistrates have been authorized to take necessary action in case of violation of directives of CGWA in the notified areas. For more effective regulation of ground water development and management, Advisory Committees under the Chairmanship of District Collector/Deputy Commissioners with members drawn from various organizations have been constituted which will render advice in matters pertaining to regulation of ground water development and management.

The CGWA have also notified 65 over-exploited areas in various States, for registration of ground water abstraction structures, which showed a very steep decline in ground water levels and which required action for regulation. The CGWA has issued directions to the Chief Secretaries of all States having over-exploited blocks to take all necessary measures to promote/adopt artificial recharge to ground water/rain water harvesting. The CGWA has also decided to notify more over-exploited areas in the country in compliance of its mandate following the provisions under rule 4 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986.

Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 17-02-2011