UN report on groundwater extraction: Every drop counts
As per UN report, the use of technologies that allow people to monitor the water available in their borewells could be the first step to nudge them to manage aquifers responsibly.
State of Aquifers:
- A recent UN University report warns that 27 out of 31 aquifers in India are declining faster than they can be refilled.
- Earlier studies, such as the Mihir Shah Committee report, highlighted a lack of understanding of river systems and their connection to groundwater health.
- Initiatives like the Atal Bhujal Yojana in 78 water-stressed districts were launched by the Union Jal Shakti Ministry to address the issue. This program, which began in 2020, aims at behavioral changes in seven states but requires further efforts to combat the crisis.
Groundwater Overuse in India:
- India extracts the most groundwater globally, relying on tubewells and borewells for about 70% of its water needs.
- While these sources supported food security, there's been a lack of emphasis on innovative water management practices.
- The overexploitation of wells in states like Punjab has been linked to power subsidies, contributing to 78% of wells being overexploited.
Connection to Climate Crisis and Behavioral Changes:
- Researchers correlate groundwater extraction to the climate crisis, especially in regions like the southwest, where hard rock aquifers limit recharging.
- Government efforts to promote less water-intensive crops like millets and efficient irrigation methods have been ongoing.
- To encourage responsible aquifer management, promoting technology that allows individuals to monitor their borewells could prompt essential behavioral changes.