Groundwater Crisis is Not Amenable to a Quick Fixby Opinion Express June 27, 2018 0 comments
Keeping in mind the increasing problems of water, we all must change our behavior of misusing earth’s resources as consumers or else it will become more critical.
Of all the problems that India faces due to rampant misuse of the Earth’s resources, the mounting groundwater crisis is turning out to be the most critical. Yet another report by the Niti Aayog emerged this past week warning that the groundwater crisis will peak countrywide by 2030. It gets worse, however, as 21 States including Delhi are predicted to face an acute shortage of groundwater as early as in 2020. For decades, there has been mounting evidence of the perilous state of the water table in India but action to deal with this dire situation has been missing, the Niti Aayog’s report has confirmed. The genesis of the failure has some key aspects. At the core, is a massive demand-supply mismatch. Both urban dwellers as well as the farming sector are responsible for pushing up demand. As a result, the reality is that most Indian cities and their rural hinterlands are now water-scarce and States are on the warpath against each other, pitting Indian against Indian. Potable water is either poorly treated or loaded with harmful chemicals.
Given that up to 80 per cent of drinking water comes from groundwater sources, this battle over water will only intensify going forward. Industries too must share the blame as they have failed to find a sustainable middle path in managing effluent which is more often than not allowed to flow untreated into a river, sea or lake in the vicinity of industrial units. At the same time, due to rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation, the real estate industry has been another culprit for depleting groundwater as builders have bored deep and illegally in many cases. It must also be accepted that farmers are one of the biggest users of groundwater; since the 1980s, the agricultural community has been dependent on groundwater rather than rainwater for irrigation. And water-intensive crops have resulted in groundwater reserves depleting rapidly.
There have been some policy interventions to fix the problem but on the available evidence these have not had the desired effect. Take the Central Ground Water Board’s guidelines on extraction, for instance. Three years on, building large dams and reservoirs continues, water-pricing policies have not changed and conservation of rainwater is yet to become a reality on a large scale. Now that we are on the brink of a crisis, our behaviour as a society has to change. Disaster looms.
Courtesy: The Pioneer