ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Conserving a Precious Resource

ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY Conserving a Precious Resource The establishment of the national level Advisory Council on Artificial Recharge of Groundwater will be welcomed by all concerned as a muchneeded initiative. Groundwater is a critical input for livelihoods of millions of people. It irrigates about 70 per cent of the cropped area and supplies 80 per cent of domestic water. Recent evidence, some of which was summarised by prime minister Manmohan Singh in his inaugural address last month to the council, has shown that the resource is under serious threat of overuse in many parts of the country. Three hundred and six districts have reported water level decline of over 4 metres during the past 20 years. In nearly one-third of the blocks in the country, groundwater reserves have been or are close to exploitation and this figure is likely to cross 60 per cent in another 25 years. Groundwater overuse and associated problems are particularly rampant in the agriculturally prosperous regions of Indo-Gangetic plains, hard rock areas of central and south India, coastal areas and the rapidly growing urban settlements. A major reason for this state of affairs has been the increase in the depth and density of groundwater extraction in post-green revolution agriculture, thanks to the astronomical increase in the number of wells and groundwater structures, particularly tubewells. In his speech, the prime minister called for

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