The Earth System which is made of Ecosphere and Anthroposphere is facing disturbance in its stable environment because of human activities. Water, the bloodstream of the biosphere, determines the sustainability of living systems. The diverse uses of freshwater are because of its very unique physico-chemical and biological properties. Beside direct consumption, man uses water for various domestic purposes, food production (agriculture and aquaculture), industry, production of energy, transport and recreation.
As for human beings, our need for water is unfortunately directly proportional to the amount we waste it. Like most natural resources, water is renewable. However, a lesser known fact is that because of human intervention, in 10-12 decades, water will become a non-renewable resource and here’s an alarming fact that it is depleting fast. Serious efforts are not being made to conserve the surface water and groundwater resources. India extracts around 251 cubic kilometer groundwater, annually, which is 25% of the total global annual extraction. China and the US follow, but together they don’t account for as much as India extracts on its own. India’s groundwater use has grown exponentially over the decades.
The Dynamic Ground Water Resources of India are being periodically assessed jointly by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and State Governments. As per the 2017 assessment, Total Annual Ground Water Recharge is 432 Billion Cubic Meter (BCM) and the Annual Extractable Ground Water Resource is 393 BCM. The Annual Ground Water Extraction for all uses is 249 BCM. The Stage of Annual Ground Water Extraction for all uses (irrigation, industrial and domestic uses) over Annual Extractable Ground Water Resource, is 63% for the country as a whole. Out of the total 6881 assessment units (Block/ Taluks/ Mandals/ watersheds/ Firkas) in the country, 1186 units in 17 States/UTs have been categorized as ‘Over-exploited’ where Annual Ground Water Extraction is more than Annual Extractable Ground Water Resource. As per India Environmental Portal, state-wise details indicated that Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Delhi are the most affected states .
Government of India has launched the Jal Shakti Abhiyan which is a time bound campaign with a mission mode approach intended to improve water availability including ground water conditions in the water stressed blocks. Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has issued directions under Section 5 of “The Environment Protection Act, 1986” for mandatory Rain Water Harvesting / Roof Top Rain Water Harvesting for all target areas in the Country including UTs. While granting ‘No Objection Certificate (NOC)’ for drawing ground water, CGWA insists for mandatory rain water harvesting as per the guidelines issued.
Besides government efforts, every citizen must also start individual efforts to ensure fulfillment of water demands of our current and future generations are met, for example by fixing UPOs (Usage Point Optimizers) on taps, grey water harvesting, RO water harvesting, drip irrigation and choosing squat pans over western toilets or optimizing flush tanks.