Northern India has registered a critical fall in groundwater levels ranging between 75 and 85 per cent, according to a monitoring report by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB). The newly set up Jal Shakti Ministry furnished the CGWB data to Parliament in response to a query from Haryana BJP MP Ramesh Chander Kaushik.
The Board usually carries out groundwater monitoring four times in a year in different states.
“In order to assess the declining/rising trend in water level on a long-term basis, pre-monsoon water level data 2018 has been compared with the decadal average (2008-17) water level. Analysis of data indicates decline in ground water level in about 52 per cent of the wells being monitored,” said the Parliament statement.
Punjab, a leading agrarian state, suffered the highest 84 per cent decline in groundwater levels in the 216 wells monitored followed by Uttar Pradesh, which recorded 83 per cent dip in 563 wells.
Jammu and Kashmir came third place (81 per cent fall in 244 wells). The groundwater crisis is also acute in the national capital and neighbouring states.
Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have recorded a sharp fall in the groundwater levels, ranging from 70 to 80 per cent.
Rajasthan, a semi-arid state, reported 49 per cent dip in the groundwater level. Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh recorded a decline of 53 to 59 per cent.
The CGWB analysed 14,243 wells across the country. Of this, 6,786 recorded a rise in groundwater levels but 7,412 wells showed the opposite result.
“Ground water levels in various parts of the country are declining because of continuous withdrawal due to reasons such as increased demand of fresh water for various uses, vagaries of rainfall, increased population, industrialization and urbanization,” cited the Jal Shakti Ministry.
The Ministry also cited the example of states which have done well in water management. These include Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The southern states of Kerala, Telangana and Puducherry recorded a decline of 40 to 46 per cent. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which is facing a huge water crisis, saw a 60 per cent tumble.
Tripura in the northeast saw the lowest decline of 16 per cent dip and Goa 29 per cent.