Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:
Economy [Paper-II]: Infrastructure in Indian Economy, Water Supply and Sanitation, Policies for sustainable agriculture
On the Birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Atal Bhujal Yojana (ATAL JAL).
- It is a World Bank-funded, central scheme aimed at improving groundwater management.
- ATAL JAL has been designed with the principal objective of strengthening the institutional framework for participatory groundwater management and bringing about behavioral changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management in seven States, viz. Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
- Implementation of the scheme is expected to benefit nearly 8350 Gram Panchayats in 78 districts in these States.
- ATAL JAL will promote panchayat led ground water management and behavioural changes with primary focus on demand side management.
- The focus will be on arresting the rate of decline of groundwater levels as well as water consumption.
- Out of the total outlay of 6000 crore to be implemented over a period of 5 years (2020-21 to 2024-25), 50% shall be in the form of World Bank loan, and be repaid by the Central Government.
- The remaining 50% shall be through Central Assistance from regular budgetary support.
- The entire World Bank’s loan component and Central Assistance shall be passed on to the States as Grants.
Water Scarcity in India
- India accounts for 16 per cent of the world’s population living in less than 2.5 per cent of the global area, and has just 4 per cent of the global water resources.
- With the population rising, demand for water will increase manifold in coming years.
- According to the CWC, per capita availability in the country will decrease from 1,434 cubic metres in 2025 to 1,219 cubic metres in 2050.
- By CWC benchmarks, a water-stressed condition happens when per capita availability is less than 1,700 cubic metres and a water-scarcity condition when per capita availability falls below 1,000 cubic metres.
Situation of Groundwater
- According to ‘Water and Related Statistics 2019’, a report published by the CWC, the annual replenishable groundwater resources in India (2017) are 432 BCM, out of which 393 BCM is the annual “extractable” groundwater availability.
- Fifteen states account for about 90 per cent of the groundwater potential in the country.
- Uttar Pradesh accounts for 16.2 per cent, followed by Madhya Pradesh (8.4%), Maharashtra (7.3%), Bihar (7.3%), West Bengal (6.8%), Assam (6.6%), Punjab (5.5%) and Gujarat (5.2%).
- The current annual groundwater extraction is 249 BCM, the largest user being the irrigation sector.
- Thus, government is now focussing for alternatives to water-intensive crops such as paddy and sugarcane.
- Compared to the decadal average for 2009-18, there has been a decline in the groundwater level in 61% of wells monitored by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).