A significant stride in India’s efforts towards sustainable water management was revealed on July 20, 2023, as the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti announced that 21 states and union territories have successfully implemented the Ground Water Act. This crucial legislation incorporates an essential provision for rainwater harvesting, aimed at fostering sustainable water practices across the nation. The implementation of this act is expected to address the pressing groundwater crisis in the country.
In response to a query in the Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti, Bishweshwar Tudu, informed that the ministry has prepared a model bill to assist all states and union territories in enacting appropriate groundwater laws, ensuring comprehensive water management policies are adopted throughout the country.
The 21 states and union territories that have already embraced the Ground Water Act include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry.
As part of the Ground Water Act’s successful implementation, tap water access has been extended to 60 percent of rural households in areas predominantly inhabited by Scheduled Caste (SC) communities. An impressive 1,32,64,760 out of a total of 2,18,06,280 rural households in SC-concentrated/dominated areas now have access to tap water connections.
Groundwater plays a pivotal role as the primary source of irrigation in India, significantly contributing to sustaining agricultural practices. It is estimated that approximately 70% of the country’s food production relies on tube wells and other groundwater sources. However, the extensive use of groundwater in agriculture has resulted in an escalating groundwater crisis, necessitating a comprehensive action plan for conservation.
According to the ‘World Water Development Report’ published by UNESCO in 2018, India was identified as the world’s largest groundwater user, highlighting the urgency to implement effective water conservation measures and adopt sustainable management practices. With the successful implementation of the Ground Water Act in various states and union territories, India takes a significant step towards managing its groundwater resources more prudently, ensuring a sustainable and water-secure future for the nation.