Groundwater is the source of over one-third of usable water in the country, and its over usage and contamination can lead to serious repercussions. States such as Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan consume more Groundwater than the annual Groundwater recharge, hence, depleting the resource faster. Over the years, the areas where Groundwater was readily available have seen an increase in its usage, increasing the Groundwater usage from 58 per cent in 2004 to 62 per cent in 2011 (PRS, 2016).
The image below shows the levels of groundwater development in various states of India in 2011. Delhi and Punjab have a groundwater development of over 100 per cent, which indicates that these states use more groundwater than its replenishment rate. On the other hand, states such as Manipur, Assam, Bihar and Goa have a really low groundwater development, which means they use groundwater at a lesser rate than its replenishment.
Fig: Groundwater Development in 2011
The water that seeps through rocks and soil is known as Groundwater. Groundwater is stored below the ground in rocks, known as aquifers, which are made of gravel, sand, limestone or sandstone. The depth at which Groundwater is found from the surface is called the water table, which can range from a few feet to a few hundred meters. The level of the water table continuously changes over time. While rains cause the water table to rise, overuse of the Groundwater can cause its levels to fall. As of 2015, Groundwater was the source of over 38 per cent of usable water available in India (PRS, 2016). Due to the population outburst, wastage and contamination, Groundwater is becoming more scarce.
As the extraction rate of Groundwater increases, the water table reaches further in the ground. To extract water from an increased depth, more resources have to be deployed, thus increasing the cost. Overuse of Groundwater can also cause large water bodies to become shallow as it restricts the flow of water into them, posing a threat to aquatic life and agriculture. Also, as the Groundwater reaches increased depths, it can mix with saltwater and cause saltwater contamination. Drinking this water is unhealthy and can come with health concerns. Due to contamination, the cost of extraction and filtration increases the cost of Groundwater. In the end, as large aquifers (rocks where Groundwater is stored below the ground) are depleted, the food supply will be distorted and both human life and aquatic life will gravely suffer. To avert the danger of Groundwater depletion, it is necessary to take certain measures.
Village ponds have always played a vital role in restoring the Groundwater table. As the environment and related aspects have changed over the years, the importance of village ponds has increased as well. To overcome the loss of village ponds, advancements in water management techniques are being prioritised and farmers are being educated about water conservation techniques. Although village ponds have high acceptability in recharging the shallow Groundwater regime, the amount of usage of pond water in rural areas is alarming.
To rejuvenate the village ponds, NRDMS has initiated a network programme where more than 14 R&D projects have been made operational all over the country to validate the concept and rejuvenate the village ponds. The projects are being completed with the help of Gram Panchayats. Certain scientific studies are also being conducted, such as drainage mapping, soil character of catchment and more.
Fig: The meeting of the experts going on in IRA, Pusa on 24th January 2018.
The study is considered to be an innovative approach in recharging the Groundwater levels, particularly in rural areas. NRDMS, under Department of Science & Technology, Government of India is constantly working towards developing spatial data infrastructure in India for micro level planning across diverse terrain. To know more about NRDMS, visit www.NRDMS.gov.in