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UN Report Warns India Heading Towards Groundwater Depletion Tipping Point

The UN report, ‘Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023’, said that India is the world’s largest user of groundwater and it may exceed the groundwater risk tipping point

UN Report Warns India Heading Towards Groundwater Depletion Tipping Point
Around 70 per cent of groundwater withdrawals are used for agriculture, often when above-ground water sources are insufficien

New Delhi: Some areas in the Indo-Gangetic basin in India have already passed the groundwater depletion tipping point and its entire northwestern region is predicted to experience critically low groundwater availability by 2025, according to a new report by the United Nations. Titled “Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023” and published by the United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), the report highlights that the world is approaching six environmental tipping points: accelerating extinctions, groundwater depletion, mountain glacier melting, space debris, unbearable heat and an uninsurable future.

Also Read: Reusing Treated Wastewater In Irrigation Could’ve Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 1.3 Million Tonnes In 2021: Study

Environmental tipping points are critical thresholds in the Earth’s systems, beyond which abrupt and often irreversible changes occur, leading to profound and sometimes catastrophic shifts in ecosystems, climate patterns and the overall environment.

Around 70 per cent of groundwater withdrawals are used for agriculture, often when above-ground water sources are insufficient. Aquifers play a crucial role in mitigating agricultural losses caused by drought, a challenge expected to worsen due to climate change.

However, the report warns that the aquifers themselves are approaching a tipping point. More than half of the world’s major aquifers are depleting faster than they can naturally replenish. When the water table falls below a level accessible by existing wells, farmers may lose access to water, posing a risk to entire food production systems.

Also Read: India Water Foundation At UN Human Rights Council Highlights Progress In Sanitation And Rights To Water

Some countries, like Saudi Arabia, have already exceeded the groundwater risk tipping point, while others, including India, are not far from it. The report said,

India is the world’s largest user of groundwater, exceeding the use of the United States and China combined. The northwestern region of India serves as the bread basket for the nation’s growing 1.4 billion people, with the states of Punjab and Haryana producing 50 per cent of the country’s rice supply and 85 per cent of its wheat stocks. However, 78 per cent of wells in Punjab are considered overexploited and the northwestern region as a whole is predicted to experience critically low groundwater availability by 2025.

Jack O’Connor, the lead author and senior expert at UNU-EHS, said,

As we approach these tipping points, we will already begin to experience the impacts. Once crossed, it will be difficult to go back. Our report can help us see risks ahead of us, the causes behind them and the urgent changes required to avoid them.

Also Read: 46 Per Cent Of The World’s Population Lack Access To Safely Managed Sanitation: UN Report

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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