India’s Groundwater Governance is in Better Shape : Daily Current Affairs

Date: 30/01/2023

Relevance: GS-2: Government Policies, Governance and related issues.

Relevance: GS-3: Water Resources and its conservation.

Key Phrases: Groundwater, Mapping of the groundwater resource, Jal Shakti Ministry, Dynamic Ground Water Resource Assessment, 2022, Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABY) and the National Project on Aquifer Management (NAQUIM), Sustainable Development Goal, Jal Jeevan Mission.


  • India, with nearly 18% of the world’s population, occupies about 2.4% of the total geographical area and consumes 4% of total water resources.
  • A rapidly growing economy and population are straining the country’s groundwater resources.
    • Therefore, the governance of groundwater resources has become an important issue in the country.

Key Highlights:

  • As per the World Bank report, India is the largest groundwater user in the world.
  • There is no central law governing the use of groundwater and various States have their own laws on regulating its extraction that is deployed in a perfunctory manner.

Importance of Groundwater:

  • Groundwater is the backbone of India’s agriculture and drinking water security in rural and urban areas, meeting nearly 80% of the country’s drinking water and two-thirds of its irrigation needs.
  • As one of the fastest-growing economies, India will need adequate groundwater resources to manage anthropogenic pressures.
    • It is important to ensure source sustainability to provide safe drinking water to all rural households by 2024, under the Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • Groundwater is pivotal to India’s water security.

Dynamic Ground Water Resource Assessment, 2022

  • About
    • The Ministry of Jal Shakti recently made public a report “National Compilation on Dynamic Groundwater Resources of India” that gives a snapshot of India’s groundwater situation.
    • The findings of the groundwater assessment indicate a positive inclination toward the management of groundwater.
  • Key Findings
    • According to the latest assessment, there has been a 3% reduction in the number of ‘overexploited’ groundwater units and a 4% increase in the number of ‘safe’ category units as compared to 2017.
    • The total annual groundwater recharge is 437.60 Billion Cubic Metres (BCM) and the annual ground water extraction is 239.16 BCM.
    • There was an improvement in groundwater conditions in 909 units.
    • The assessment also showed a reduction in annual extraction (of about 9.53 billion cubic metres); the data for irrigation, industrial and domestic use, respectively, is 208.49 BCM, 3.64 BCM and 27.05 BCM.
      • The 2022 assessment suggests that groundwater extraction is the lowest since 2004 when it was 231 bcm.

Efforts for Better Governance of GroundWater:

  • The central government is working to achieve the goal of sustainable groundwater management in collaboration with States and Union Territories.
    • In this process, certain important efforts have been identified such as
      • A reduction in groundwater extraction to below 70%.
      • Increasing the network of groundwater observation wells.
      • Installing digital water level recorders for real-time monitoring.
      • Periodic monitoring of groundwater quality.
      • Aquifer mapping and data dissemination.
      • Having better regulation of groundwater extraction by industries.
      • Promoting participatory groundwater management and periodic groundwater resource assessment.
  • Creation of Jal Shakti Ministry (By merging the erstwhile Ministries of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation along with Drinking Water and Sanitation) to give impetus to the management of water resources with a special focus on demand and supply management.
  • Realising the importance of community participation, the Jal Shakti Abhiyan was launched subsequently to transform Jan Shakti into Jal Shakti through asset creation, rainwater harvesting (‘Catch the Rain’ campaign) and an extensive awareness campaign.
  • Some Initiatives have also been taken for the effective management and regulation of groundwater, examples being the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABY) and the National Project on Aquifer Management (NAQUIM).
    • With the goal of “participatory groundwater management”, ABY looks to inculcate behavioural change made possible by incentivisation.
    • NAQUIM, envisages the mapping of subsurface water-bearing geological formations (aquifers) to help gather authentic data and enable informed decision-making.
      • Around 24 lakh square kilometres of the country have been mapped from the available mappable area of nearly 25 lakh sq. km. The remaining area is likely to be mapped by March 2023.
      • A heliborne-based survey (state-of-the-art technology), has been used along with traditional exploratory methods for rapid and accurate aquifer mapping.
  • Increasing the Monitoring Stations
    • There are around 65,025 monitoring stations in India, which include 7,885 automated stations.
    • The numbers are set to go beyond 84,000; in this, the number of automated stations will rise to over 35,000, with a special focus on identifying high groundwater-extracting industrial and urban clusters and groundwater-stressed regions.
  • Dynamic groundwater assessments will be done annually now and a groundwater estimation committee formed to revise the assessment methodology.
  • A software, ‘India-Groundwater Resource Estimation System (IN-GRES)’, has also been developed.

Need of Hour:

  • Communities will have to manage their groundwater resources better with the help of various government agencies and non-governmental organisations.
  • In the context of climate change, as uncertainties will increase in connection with groundwater resources, efforts must be made to find solutions that are essential for sustainable development.
  • A draft National Water Policy has recommended a shift in usage from water-guzzling crops and prioritising recycling over freshwater for industrial purposes.
  • Water ought not to be considered a free, private resource but one whose costs must be measured and borne equitably.
  • While water remains a politically contentious subject in India, the climate crisis should inspire consensus across the political spectrum on disincentivizing wasteful consumption of this precious resource.
  • The groundwater resource assessment report 2022 shows a brighter future for groundwater situations in the country as the initiatives taken by various governments have begun yielding results.
    • This is a new beginning and steps must be taken to make India a water-surplus nation, thus fulfilling the objective of a key United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, of water for all.


  • The government’s interventions in enabling a positive impact on the overall groundwater scenario in India reflect the spirit of cooperative federalism in managing this precious resource.

Source: The Hindu

Mains Question:

Q. What are the efforts taken by the government for better groundwater governance in India? Also, suggest some measures for further improvement. (250 Words).