This second part of yearend overview, SANDRP highlights some positive reports and steps taken by various state governments in India for management and conservation of groundwater in 2022. In first part of the overview, we have tracked the situation of groundwater depletion and contamination in the country and in third part covered some remarkable judicial interventions regarding groundwater conservation in 2022.
Centre Recharge wells to power multi-city groundwater project. A pilot project on shallow aquifer management, initiated by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs for 10 cities, under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), has identified recharge wells as key to improving groundwater availability. Experts have cited the non-availability of space to allow the percolation of rainwater as a major hurdle to recharging Bengaluru’s groundwater table. The Million Wells programme was launched by Biome Environmental Trust in 2015 to encourage citizens and communities to dig and maintain their own recharge wells. It also opened up employment for the traditional well-digger community, the mannu vaddars.
In Bengaluru, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will be the nodal agency for the project. Biome Environmental Trust and Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM) will be technical partners in the project, which is led by the National Institute of Urban Affairs, a national think-tank on urban planning and development. The pilot project also covers Chennai, Dhanbad, Gwalior, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Rajkot, Thane, and Pune. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/recharge-wells-to-power-multi-city-groundwater-project-1157262.html (28 Oct. 2022)
JALDOOT App launched: to enable monitoring of ground water tables across the country Union Minister of State for Rural Development and Steel, Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste launched the “JALDOOT App and JALDOOT App e-brochure” at a function in New Delhi today, in the presence of Union Minister of State for Rural Development, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Union Minister of State for Panchayati Raj, Shri Kapil Moreshwar Patil. Secretary, Department of Rural Development, Shri Nagendra Nath Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Shri Sunil Kumar and senior officers from the Ministry were also present on this occasion. Representatives from all States/UTs were also present through Video-Conferencing. JALDOOT app has been jointly developed by Ministry of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj. This app will be used across the country to capture the water level of selected 2-3 wells in a village. Manual monitoring of water levels in open wells will be measured twice in a year, from 1st May to 31st May as pre-monsoon water level and from 1st October to 31st October for post-monsoon level for the same well. Jaldoots, that is, officers assigned to measure the water levels, should also upload the geo-tagged photographs through the app on every occasion of measurement. A resource book for grass root level functionaries- Jaldoot can be accessed at http://cgwb.gov.in (JalDootRsourceBook.pdf). https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1862606 (27 Sept. 2022) Government app Jaldoot to capture data on ground water tables. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-app-jaldoot-to-capture-data-on-ground-water-tables/article65942349.ece
The National Aquifer Mapping and Management programme, which is aimed at delineating aquifer and water availability, is set to be completed in one year, G. Asok Kumar, DG, NMCG said in Chennai on Jan 16, 2023. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/national-aquifer-mapping-programme-to-be-completed-in-a-year-jal-shakti-ministry-official-says/article66382555.ece (16 Jan. 2023)
Maharashtra MWRRA directs dist authorities to act against misuse of groundwater For the first time in the state’s history, its groundwater authority — Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) — has directed the recently appointed district authorities to take legal and penal actions against various parties involved in illegal extraction and sales of groundwater mainly including the well and tanker owners.
A letter by MWRRA secretary Dr Ramnath Sonawane to the recently designated officers for such actions —- that include deputy collector in South Mumbai, and deputy divisional officers of eastern and western suburbs — has pointed out hundreds of cases of groundwater theft and illegal sale filed by groundwater activist Sureshkumar Dhoka.
Despite making effective the Maharashtra Groundwater development and management regulations since June 2014, there were no such officers to investigate several complaints related to groundwater theft in Mumbai and take legal action against those involved. However, in Dec 2021 this job was allocated to officers at the level of collectorates & commissionerates.
Mumbai police have registered probably India’s first groundwater theft case worth over Rs 80 crore at Pandya Mansion in Bomanji Master Lane in South Mumbai. There are several cases of alleged water theft against the contractors working on various projects assigned by the govt agencies. These officers now have powers to take lawful actions against those indulging in illegal extraction & commercial exploitation of groundwater without prior permissions from the groundwater and civic authorities. The officers can also recover environmental damage compensation from well and tanker owners indulging in illegal practices. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/maharashtra-mwrra-directs-district-authorities-to-take-action-against-misuse-of-groundwater/articleshow/91132220.cms (27 Apr 2022)
Odisha Govt to implement ARUA to replenish groundwater table The state govt will soon launch a scheme called ‘artificial recharge to underground acquifer’ (ARUA) to replenish the depleting groundwater table. As per a resolution of the Water Resources dept, the scheme will be implemented in six semi-critical and 26 approaching semi-critical blocks having groundwater extraction of more than 65 per cent of the entire State at an estimated cost of Rs 49.23 crores over a period of five years from 2022-23 to 2026-27.
The scheme will be implemented from the budget of the Water Resources department. Under the scheme, groundwater recharge shafts will be installed in 2,400 existing tanks. Official sources said maintenance of the structures will be done by Pani Panchayats where available or by the staff of groundwater directorate. In the case of Pani Panchayats taking up maintenance in a block, funds will be provided by the Water Resources department for maintenance. Besides, they will also impart necessary training for taking up maintenance. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/aug/27/odisha-to-implement-arua-to-replenish-groundwater-table-2491932.html (27 Aug. 2022)
Kerala Groundwater dept. launches ‘well census’ The State Groundwater Department has kicked off a ‘well census’ for listing all groundwater structures, including wells. The survey is being carried out with the support of the Kudumbashree Mission. Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine released Neerarivu, a handbook prepared for Kudumbashree workers tasked with collecting the data, by handing over a copy to Kudumbashree Mission Director Asha Varghese.
The well census, which will cover groundwater structures, including wells, ponds (excluding naturally formed ponds) and tube wells, has been included in the World Bank-assisted National Hydrology Project (NHP), the Water Resources department said. The survey will be carried out in 243 panchayats in the first phase. The government has earmarked ₹6 crore for the exercise. The Kudumbashree workers will collect the data using a mobile app which has been named ‘Neerarivu.’ They will be trained by officials of the Groundwater department. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/groundwater-dept-launches-well-census/article65345298.ece (22 April 2022)
Telangana State now consumes only 42% of its groundwater Groundwater exploitation has reduced from 50 % to 42 % in 2020 in Telangana. 83% of mandals (highest in the country) fall under the safe category. The total annual extractable groundwater resources are 19,251 million cubic meters (mcm) and groundwater extraction for all uses is 8009 mcm. Overall, the groundwater extraction came down by 29 % since the formation of the State. There is an improvement in groundwater quality as the concentration of total dissolved solids, fluoride and nitrate decreased considerably, according to Telangana Ground Water Department.
The department developed an online application for permissions for new borewells for various purposes under ease of doing Business (EODB) through the TS-i-PASS website (http://ipass.telangana.gov.in) with the help of the Commissioner of Industries and Commissioner of Rural Development Dept. The average groundwater levels in the state are analysed with respect to rainfall after the formation of Telangana state. The average pre-monsoon (May) groundwater level in the state during 2015 is 13.27 metres below ground level (m bgl) and 9.01 m bgl during 2022 and thus showing a rise of 4.26 metres in seven years. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2022/oct/02/telangananow-consumes-only-42-of-its-groundwater-most-areas-marked-safe-2504074.html (02 Oct. 2022)
Rise in groundwater level highest in India Telangana has experienced an average increase of 4.26 metres in the groundwater level in the last seven years, according to an irrigation and command area development (I&CAD) dept release on Sept 23 2022 by special chief secretary, I&CAD, Rajat Kumar. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/240922/rise-in-groundwater-level-in-telangana-highest-in-india.html (24 Sept. 2022)
Tamil Nadu PWD preparing DPR to renovate 21 spring channels in Ranipet district PWD officials said that Rs 1.65 crore was spent to renovate the distribution channel and strengthening the bund of the tank, which ensured steady flow in the channel even after the rain stopped nearly a month ago. “This follows the department tasting success through the renovation of a spring channel (called Kasa Kalvai in Tamil) near Ocheri on the Ranipet–Kancheepuram district border resulting in water flowing from Karivedu to the irrigation tank at Damal in Kancheepuram district 8 km away,” the Collector said.
“Ranipet is the only district, due to its sandy soil, has such spring channels. The soil absorbs water when it rains and releases it after the downpour stops,” officials explained. “We feel that this might be the reason why agriculture did not face water-related issues despite lacking modern day advantages,” officials added. “The Karivedu spring channel showed the way of how to ensure continuous supply in the district,” they said and added that similar channels have been identified at Nemili, Panapakkam and Tiruparkadal in the district.
The renovation has also resulted in the water table increasing by 1.9 metres to touch 4.30 metres now as against the 6.25 metres in 2020, Collector Baskara Pandian said. This would help farmers raise three crops annually as against the two seasons followed at present, he added. The Karivedu tank improvements will benefit 525 acres and 310 farmers the Collector said and added that the continuous flow into the Damal tank abutting the Chennai–Bengaluru National Highway had gladdened the hearts of farmers in Kancheepuram that “many thanked the district administration for renovation of the spring channel which supplies water to their district.” https://www.dtnext.in/tamilnadu/2023/01/17/pwd-preparing-detailed-project-report-to-renovate-21-spring-channels-in-ranipet-district (17 Jan. 2023)
Rajasthan Groundwater scheme being linked with other segments An ambitious scheme for checking the decline in ground water level, operative in 38 panchayat samitis of 17 districts, is being connected with agriculture, forestry and water harvesting works for capacity enhancement. The scheme has been implemented with the participation of local communities. Chief Secretary Usha Sharma said on Oct. 12, 2022 that the Atal Bhujal Yojana, supported by the Centre and the World Bank, would be operative till 2025 and would play a significant role in ground water management through convergence with other ongoing schemes. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ground-water-scheme-being-linked-with-other-segments-in-rajasthan/article66002295.ece (13 Oct. 2022)
Uttar Pradesh Pilibhit district announces water wastage as a state offence Pilibhit district administration has announced that water wastage at automobile service stations and public places will now be a state offence. Pilibhit has become the first district in the state to have announced such a move. The penalty for defying the rule will be decided soon, said, officials. Chief Development Officer (CDO), Prashant Srivastav, said that the administration would also impose a ban on the plantation of eucalyptus in the district since it absorbs large amounts of groundwater. The administration is also planning to launch mass awareness programmes for farmers to opt for tree plantations to replace eucalyptus. The CDO added that prohibiting the cultivation of summer paddy would be more rigorous for the conservation of groundwater. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/news/news/2022-03-30-ups-pilibhit-district-announces-water-wastage-as-a-state-offence (30 March 2022)
Haryana 3,300 waterbodies to be restored in 2 years In a move to address groundwater depletion in Haryana, the state govt has identified 3,342 waterbodies, which will be restored in the next two years. The govt has identified 2,461 waterbodies in the ‘over exploited’ zone, 307 in the ‘critical’ and 574 in the ‘semi-critical’.
During a webinar—‘Creating synergies between wetlands & water management’—conducted by the state forest department, the deputy manager of the Haryana pond and wastewater management authority, Prabhakar Kumar Verma, said, “The state has been working towards identifying water bodies and conserving them. We have given unique IDs to more than 18,000 ponds. 3,342 ponds are in the 110 blocks, which have groundwater depletion issues.”
Water-table depletion is a big concern in Haryana, which has witnessed an overall 19% decline in aquifers in the last five years. The state withdraws 137% of its extractable groundwater resources, which is the third-highest in the country. The national average is at 63% in 2020 as per CGWA. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/3300-waterbodies-to-be-restored-in-hry-to-boost-groundwater-recharge/articleshow/89392387.cms (07 Feb. 2022)
Punjab How much groundwater will DSR save The govt recently announced Rs 1,500 incentive per acre for farmers opting for water saving Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR). Last year, 18% (5.62 lakh ha) of the total rice area was under DSR against govt target of 10 lakh ha.
31.42 to 31.49 lakh ha is under kharif paddy in Punjab in last three years: 2019-20 to 2021-22. On an average 3,900 to 4,000 litres water is required to grow one kg rice in the state. In one year – based on last year’s estimate – Punjab needed 5,400 billion litres of water to produce 135 lakh tonnes rice. According to PAU, DSR can help save 15-20% water. In some cases, water saving can reach 22-23%. With DSR,15-18 irrigation rounds are required against 25 to 27 irrigation rounds in traditional method. DSR can save 810 to 1,080 billion litres water every year if entire rice crop is brought under it.
PAU experts said that DSR offers avenues for ground water recharge as it prevents the development of hard crust just beneath the plough layer due to puddled transplanting and it matures 7-10 days earlier than puddle transplanted crop, therefore giving more time for management of paddy straw. A PAU study said that results from research trials & farmers’ field survey have indicated that yield, after DSR, are 1-2 quintals/ acre higher than puddled transplanted rice. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-why-punjabs-dsr-push-matters-how-much-groundwater-will-it-save-farmers-7903504/ (7 May 2022)
Delhi CGWB looking to strengthen monitoring network The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has sought the installation of 109 new piezometers across the city, which for now have an “uneven distribution” of hydrograph network stations, they said. At present, the national capital has around 111 monitoring stations of which there are 21 dugwells and 90 piezometers spread over an area of 1,483 sq km. The official pointed out that at present there is only one monitoring station per 1.4 sq km in the New Delhi district while in the Northeast district, there is one station per 30 sq km. According to CGWB, Delhi is divided into 33 blocks. 17 are over-exploited, seven are critical, six are semi-critical and only three blocks are safe. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/how-central-agency-is-looking-to-strengthen-network-for-monitoring-groundwater-situation/articleshow/89733616.cms (22 Feb. 2022)
Andhra Pradesh Water table rises despite early summer Compared to 8.65 metres below ground level (MBGL) in March 2021, the average groundwater level in March 2022 was 8.03 MBGL, an improvement of 0.62 MBGL.
Interestingly, the drought-prone Rayalaseema region has more improvement in groundwater levels compared to coastal Andhra districts. While year on year improvement of groundwater level in Coastal Andhra Pradesh in March was 0.39 MBGL, it was 1.16 MBGL in the Rayalaseema region. Anantapur tops the chart of the districts with the highest increase in groundwater levels compared to last year. The district recorded 2.96 MBGL improvement. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2022/may/01/andhras-water-table-rises-despite-early-summer-2448501.html (01 May 2022)
Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (firstname.lastname@example.org)