English Free Article | Science Bytes | VOL. 15 ISSUE 94, January-February 2016 |

Aquifer mapping and management

Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is implementing a scheme during the XII Plan Period for ground water management and regulation in which aquifer mapping is a component. The aim of the new scheme is to delineate aquifer disposition on a scale of 1:50000 in 3D and their characterisation along with area specific ground water management plans. An area of 8.89 lakh sq km has been targeted to be covered during the XII Plan period, which includes over exploited, critical and semi-critical areas prioritised for mapping in this phase.

An area of 116347 sq km, out of which, 17893 sq km area falls under Uttar Pradesh has been covered under the aquifer mapping programme and an expenditure of INR 410.49 crore has been incurred by the CGWB till January 2016. On completion of this programme information on aquifer mapping will be shared with the respective state governments for ground water management with community involvement, wherein, details on aquifer-wise ground water quantity and quality will be shared with stakeholders. The prepared management plans will include strategies and measures to be adopted for sustainability of ground water resources including its proper utilisation.

  • The central government has undertaken several steps towards proper utilisation of water resources:
    The National Water Policy (2012) formulated by the Ministry, inter-alia, advocates conservation, promotion and protection of water and highlights the need for augmenting the availability of water through rain water harvesting, direct use of rainfall and other management measures. The National Water Policy (2012) has been forwarded to all state governments/ UTs and concerned ministries/ departments of central government for adoption of the Policy.
  • This Ministry has circulated a Model Bill (2005) to all the states/UTs to enable them to enact suitable ground water legislation for its regulation and development, which includes provision of rain water harvesting. So far, 15 states/UTs have adopted and implemented the ground water legislation on the lines of the model bill. 30 states/UTs have made rain water harvesting mandatory by enacting laws or by formulating rules and regulations or by including provisions in building bye-laws or through suitable governmental orders.
  • CGWB has also prepared a conceptual document entitled ‘Master plan for artificial recharge to ground water in India’ during 2013, involving ground water scientists/experts. The Master Plan envisages construction of 1.11 crore rain water harvesting and artificial recharge structures in the country at an estimated cost of INR 79,178 crore to harness 85 billion cubic meter (BCM) of water. The augmented ground water resources will enhance the availability of water for drinking, domestic, industrial and irrigation purposes. The Master Plan has been circulated to all state governments for implementation.
  • As per Schedule-I of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the water conservation and water harvesting structures to augment ground water constitute a special focus area for MGNREGA works and about 2/3rd of the expenditure is directly related to construction of water harvesting structures.
  • Besides, the CGWA has issued directives to the chief secretaries of all states and the administrators of all UTs to take measures to promote/adopt artificial recharge to ground water/rain water harvesting.
  • CGWB has been organising mass awareness programmes in the country to promote rain water harvesting and artificial recharge to ground water. —Inputs from the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, March 2016.

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