[Gist of Yojana April 2021] Groundwater Management

Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: Central Water Commission report
Mains level: Key highlights of the Central Water Commission report

Introduction:

• India is the largest user of groundwater in the world, using more than a quarter of the available global resources. Groundwater has played an important role in ensuring the food security of the country.

• It was a major driver in ensuring the success of the ‘Green Revolution’ through millions of energised tube wells. This finite resource currently caters to more than 60 per cent of irrigated agriculture, 85% of rural drinking water supply and more than 50% of urban water supply.

Central Water Commission report:

• According to a report published by the Central Water Commission in 2019, the utilisable water available in India is 1,122 billion cubic meters (BCM) per annum, and this availability varies over time and space.

• The total requirement of the country for different uses for a high demand scenario for the years 2025 and 2050 has been assessed as 843 BCM and 1,180 BCM respectively. This implies that, even if we store every drop of available water, we will still fall short in 2050, unless we manage demand.

Disbursement of Resources against measurable indicators:

• A key feature of this outcome focused scheme is the disbursement of incentive funds (disbursement linked indicators – DLIs) to states based on performance against selected indicators.

• The selection of DLIs has been guided by activities that need to be done for sustainable management of groundwater, measurability, and ease of verification, and the capacity of stakeholders to achieve the results.

• DLI#1 – Public disclosure of groundwater data/information and reports: This DLI incentivises the strengthening of groundwater management institutions to ensure collection and public disclosure of groundwater-related information.

• DLI#2 – Preparation of Community-led Water Security Plans: This incentivises the roll-out of a bottom-up participatory groundwater planning process.

• DLI#3 – Public financing of approved Water Security Plans through a convergence of ongoing/new schemes: The DLI incentivises the use of a bottom-up groundwater planning process to improve the effectiveness of public financing and align implementation of various government programs on groundwater.

• DLI#4 – Adoption of practices for efficient water use: incentivises the implementation of demand-side measures within the WSPs.

• DLI#5 – Improvement in the rate of decline of groundwater levels: incentivises the arrest in the decline of groundwater levels.

Way forward:

• The participating States have begun to implement the programme in the right earnest. States are being encouraged to innovate in the process of implementation, in recognition of the fact that solutions for Karnataka will not be the same for Uttar Pradesh. Already, innovations are emerging. Karnataka has reached out to its village communities digitally, so as not to lose time during the current pandemic. Uttar Pradesh has decided to implement a scheme for improving the groundwater management covering all the Gram Panchayats in the State along the lines of Atal Bhujal Yojana. Innovations are also happening as communities are involved in the preparation of water security plans with the use of a custom-built mobile app for capturing geo-tagged field data.

• Learning from the experience in the selected states, it is proposed to create a pan-India programme for the water-stressed areas of the country. Strengthened water-aware communities, reliable water data that informs decision making, and a participatory regulatory framework are the three pillars that will support sustainable groundwater use in the country, making water available for life, for livelihoods and culture and enable us to combat the effects of climate change.

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