Update: Feb 18 2020 03:47 STI
New Delhi [India], Feb. 18 (ANI): The Indian government and the World Bank on Monday signed a $ 450 million loan agreement to support the national program to stop the country’s groundwater depletion and strengthen groundwater institutions .
The National Groundwater Management Improvement Program of Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) supported by the World Bank will be implemented in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and will cover 78 districts. These states cover both the hard rock aquifers of peninsular India and the alluvial aquifers of the Indo-Gangetic plains.
They were selected on the basis of several criteria, including the degree of exploitation and degradation of groundwater, established legal and regulatory instruments, institutional preparation and experience in the implementation of management-related initiatives. groundwater, in accordance with an official statement.
The program will, among other things, improve the recharge of aquifers and introduce water conservation practices; promote activities related to water harvesting, water management and crop alignment; create an institutional structure for the sustainable management of groundwater and equip communities and stakeholders to sustainably manage groundwater.
Sameer Kumar Khare, Deputy Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, said that in India, groundwater is an important source of rural and urban domestic water supply and its depletion is a cause for concern.
He said Atal Bhujal Yojana intends to strengthen the institutional framework for participatory groundwater management and encourage behavioral changes at community level for sustainable management of groundwater resources. The use of advanced technologies, involving artificial intelligence and space technology, will further contribute to better implementation of the program.
The loan agreement was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Deputy Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, on behalf of the Government of India and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India, on behalf of the World Bank.
Ahmad said that groundwater is India’s most crucial water supply and the management of this national resource is the need of the moment. This program will contribute to rural livelihoods and, in the context of climate change, strengthen the resilience of the rural economy. But its impact will also be felt globally as it is one of the major groundwater management programs in the world.
The last decades have seen an exponential growth in the exploitation of groundwater through the construction of millions of private wells. Between 1950 and 2010, the number of tube wells drilled increased from 1 million to nearly 30 million.
This allowed the area irrigated by groundwater to increase from about 3 million ha to over 35 million ha. Groundwater currently provides about 60% of irrigation water. Over 80 percent of India’s rural and urban domestic water supply is served by groundwater, making India the world’s largest user of groundwater.
If current trends persist, 60 percent of districts are likely to reach a critical level of groundwater depletion within two decades, which in turn will jeopardize at least 25 percent of agricultural production. Climate change is likely to exacerbate current pressures on groundwater resources.
The program will introduce a bottom-up planning process for community development of water budgets and water security plans (WSPs). Water balances will assess surface and groundwater conditions (both quantitative and qualitative) and identify current and future needs.
The WSP, on the other hand, will focus on improving the amount of groundwater and urge selected states to implement the proposed actions. Such community-led management measures will raise user awareness of consumption patterns and pave the way for cost-effective measures that reduce groundwater consumption.
âThe program will support actions on the ground based on community ownership and judicious management of water resources. Reversing the overuse and degradation of groundwater is in the hands of hundreds of millions of individuals and communities – they need the right incentives, information, support. , and resources to shift to more sustainable development and management of groundwater resources, âsaid Abedalrazq Khalil and Satya Priya, senior water resources management specialists and World Bank team leaders for the program.
The management and diversification of crops will be the other priority areas. Studies indicate that a 1% increase in the area irrigated with groundwater results in a 2.2% increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In addition, a 1% increase in irrigation efficiency will reduce GHG emissions by 20%. The program will support the adoption of micro-irrigation systems, including sprinkler and drip irrigation to increase productivity and help farmers switch to low-water crops.
To facilitate this process, the government will transfer a significant portion of the money (nearly 80 percent) to local governments, including districts and gram panchayats, as incentives to achieve groundwater management goals. The remaining funds will be used to provide technical support for the sustainable management of groundwater and strengthening institutional arrangements in selected states.
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) $ 450 million loan has a grace period of 6 years and a maturity of 18 years. (ANI)