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Editorial of The Day: Protecting Groundwater Through Safe Sanitation (Businessline)

Exam View: Climate change, Groundwater aquifers, Deforestation, Soil erosion, saltwater intrusion, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, Atal Bhujal Yojana, Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Major Causes of Groundwater Depletion in India, Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).

In News: Poor sanitation impacts human well-being and quality of life and results in lost opportunities for education and employment.

  • India extracts the most groundwater in the world, more than the 2nd and 3rd largest extractors (China and the United States) together. According to the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) of India, approximately 70% of the total water used in India is from groundwater sources. However, the CGWB also estimates that around 25% of the country’s total groundwater extraction is unsustainable, meaning that it is being extracted at a faster rate than it can be replenished.
  • The Composite Water Management Index by NITI Aayog has sounded a note of caution about the water crisis in India, with more than 600 million people facing acute water shortages.


Major Causes of Groundwater Depletion of India

Major Causes of Groundwater Depletion of India
Major Causes of Groundwater Depletion of India

Major Issues Associated with Depletion of GroundWater

  • Scarcity of Water: As groundwater levels drop, there may not be enough water available for domestic, agricultural, and industrial use.
  • Economic Impacts of groundwater depletion:  It can lead to reduced agricultural production and increased costs for water treatment and pumping.
  • Settling of the land: When groundwater is extracted, the soil can become compacted, leading to land subsidence (the sinking or settling of the land). This can cause damage to infrastructures, such as roads and buildings, and can also increase the risk of flooding.
  • Depletion Data-related issue: Indian government regulates groundwater exploitation by “notifying” highly overexploited blocks in water-stressed states. However, only about 14% of overexploited blocks are currently notified.
  • Contamination of water resources: For example, when groundwater levels drop, it can cause saltwater intrusion in coastal areas, leading to the contamination of freshwater resources.
  • Constraints in food supply: If groundwater availability faces difficulties then there will be hindrances in agricultural production leading to a shortage of food.
  • Limitations to biodiversity and creation of sinkholes: The water table plays a major role in sustaining biodiversity. Often, sinkholes are created when the water table lowers. These sinkholes are dangerous for buildings and towers.
stages of aquifer depletion
stages of aquifer depletion

Initiative Taken by The Government

  • National Water Policy (2012)
  • Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA)
  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana
  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan- Catch the Rain Campaign
  • Atal Bhujal Yojana
  • Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)
SC Upholds Demonetization Decision
SC Upholds Demonetization Decision

Way Forward

  • Law for Ground Water Extraction: Implementing regulations to control the extraction of groundwater can help to ensure that it is not being over-exploited.
  • Water Impact Assessment: The requirement for a Water Impact Assessment should be made mandatory for all industries, in addition to introducing a “Blue Certification” program which rates industries according to the amount of water they recharge and reuse.
  • Watershed management: It refers to the efficient management and conservation of surface and groundwater resources
  • Water Conservation: In urban areas (where groundwater is five-six metres below the surface), it is possible to reduce groundwater depletion by creating green corridors, mapping channels for potential recharge zones to store floodwater, and creating artificial groundwater recharge structures.
  • Agriculture: There is a need to increase water usage efficiency, with the use of Sprinklers and drip irrigation techniques and focus on dryland Agriculture.
  • Recycling and Reusing of water: Use of water of lesser quality such as reclaimed waste water would be an attractive option for industries for cooling and fire fighting In urban areas water after bathing and washing utensils can be used for gardening
  • Awareness campaign and Water Education: Raising awareness about the importance of conserving water and the need to prevent groundwater depletion can help to encourage individuals and communities to adopt sustainable water use practices.


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Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation

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