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National Conclave On Drinking Water Quality: India Extracts More Groundwater Than United States And China Put Together

India extracts 250 billion cubic metres/year groundwater and some states are extracting more groundwater than there is recharge

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  • More groundwater being extracted than there is recharge
  • There will be shortage of water if conditions not checked: Experts
  • The quality of groundwater can be an issue in several parts of the country

New Delhi: India extracts more groundwater than the United States and China put together, a Water Resource Ministry official said here on Friday, adding that some states are extracting more groundwater than there is recharge. Groundwater is the most extracted natural resource in the world, more than coal and oil, said Dipankar Saha, a member of Central Ground Water Board, under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. According to assessments made by National Aquifer Mapping Programme (NAMP), an initiative taken under the ministry to map the health of aquifers around the country, there are several states which are “extracting more groundwater than there is recharge”.

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Speaking at the National Conclave on Drinking Water Quality, Mr Saha said, India extracts a staggering 250 billion cubic metres/year groundwater, which excludes all deep water aquifers. This is more than China and US combined.

If the condition is not checked, then very soon we will be facing shortage of per capita water availability, Mr Saha warned.

In the eastern states, the stress on the resource is less, but as one moves towards the west like in Maharashtra, and towards southern states, the situation becomes grimmer, he said, attributing the information to the assessments done under NAMP since 2012, when it was formed.

Alongwith its projected scarcity, the quality of groundwater can be an issue in several parts of the country, as the official said that there were as many as 10 states where arsenic- a chemical whose exposure can cause skin, lung and other types of cancer- was found in groundwater beyond permissible limits.

Also Read: To Attract Foreign Investments And Technologies, India Needs To Improve Its Water Management Regimes

We checked 15,000 wells for arsenic in 26 states for this exercise and found many wells in Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Punjab, Jharkhand, and Manipur to be contaminated with arsenic, he said.

He added that this does not mean that all wells or the entire groundwater here is contaminated. Arsenic concentration is patchy in nature and found only in the top layer of the aquifers. The solution to this then is that we extract water from deeper aquifers.

The programme which will conclude its exercise by 2022 is geared to map 26 lakh square kilometre out of 32 square Kilometre constituting Indian territory.

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