Haryana plans water availability index for every village, localised measures to prevent groundwater exploitation

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Updated: August 17, 2021 12:35 PM

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khatter had said in a recent meeting that the groundwater had gone down to 80 feet in some districts in the past five decades and called it a serious problem.

world environment day, save, water, agriculture in India, groundwater depletion, unsustainable pumping and unscientific irrigationThe government will prepare the water availability index for each village while the water security plan is implemented over the next four years

The Haryana government will map water levels in every village amid rapid groundwater exploitation in 79 per cent villages of the state.

According to Central Ground Water Authority figures shared by the state government, 85 of Haryana’s 141 blocks have over-exploited groundwater. Against the recharge volumes, these areas have exploited 100 per cent groundwater, the figures show. This means that for every 100 litres of groundwater recharge, the extraction is over 200 litres.

Similarly, the pace of groundwater exploitation is 90 to 100 per cent in 12 other blocks, categorised as ‘critical’. Fourteen blocks, where groundwater exploitation is between 70 and 90 per cent, have been categorised as ‘semi-critical’. Only 30 blocks have been declared to be safe.

An official told The Indian Express that the water being harnessed was not being used judiciously. The saline water is neither suitable for agriculture nor is it potable.

According to officials, the state has seen a decline of 9.47 metres in the water table on average from June 1995 to June 2020.

According to the officials The Indian Express spoke to, the water table in Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Karnal, Panipat, Fatehabad, and Sirsa district fell sharply due to paddy sowing. The water table in Faridabad and Gurgaon districts declined due to urbanisation. In Rewari, Bhiwani, and Mahendragarh districts, groundwater is being depleted due to the presence of groundwater in fractured zones of hard formation.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khatter had said in a recent meeting that the groundwater had gone down to 80 feet in some districts in the past five decades and called it a serious problem.

Atal Bhujal Yojna Project Director for Haryana, Satbir Singh Kadian, told The Indian Express that the state is water deficit in terms of groundwater and surface water resources. The state’s groundwater level, particularly in fresh groundwater zones, is fast depleting due to overexploitation. The groundwater resource is facing stress as it is used to irrigate over 60 per cent area due to limited availability of surface water.

Kadian added that the groundwater quality in 45 per cent of Haryana is not suitable for irrigation due to its salinity.

As a result, the government has decided to focus on villages to determine the gravity of the situation.

Kadian, a chief engineer level officer, said the state will formulate a water security plan for each village in 85 blocks. The villagers will be told how long the groundwater will sustain at the current pace of exploitation and ask them if they wished to be without groundwater in the future.

The government will also suggest planting alternative crops to paddy to save water. The villagers will also be told about water conservation and artificial groundwater recharge. Kadian said this would mean that the future of the community would be left to the community itself. He added that this formula had worked in different parts of the world.

Groundwater recharge has a three-pronged effect — it enhances the sustainable yield in regions where the aquifer has been depleted by over-development, and conserves and stores of excess surface water for future use. The process also improves the quality of groundwater.

Thirty-six of the 85 over-exploited blocks will be covered by the Atal Bhujal Yojana, while the state government will use its own resources to intervene in the remaining ones. The Yojana, a participatory groundwater management plan, is supported by the World Bank and Centre. Haryana will get Rs 678 crore in four years to implement the scheme.

At present, the water level is checked at 20-sq km radius, but now there are plans to detect it in every single village to bring down the average distance to 6.5 sq km.

The government will prepare the water availability index for each village while the water security plan is implemented over the next four years.

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