New Delhi: The receding ground water table in the plains of Ganga and Yamuna is has become a major concern as the Northern states are heading towards acute drinking water crisis.

The over-exploitation of the ground water in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Western Uttar Pradesh has led to drying up of aquifers in these states opening new challenges in terms of ensuring food security.

As per estimates while 60 percent demands of irrigation is met by the ground water, it meets 80 percent demand of drinking water across the country.

While more than half of the blocks in these states have been classified as ‘dark area’ due over-exploitation of ground water, the levels of water table in atleast 35 percent blocks across the country has touched alarming levels.

The latest report of the World Bank gives a very disturbing picture of what lies ahead in this regard. The report warns that if the global climatic change and the massive exploitation of ground water continue, then 60 percent of the blocks in India would witness drought conditions over the next decade. In that case, country would be facing crisis of drinking water apart from irrigation.

Despite the deepening crisis, the Union Water Resources Ministry has done nothing else than writing to the state governments reminding them of setting up State Ground Water Authority.

As per estimate, ground water table has receded below danger marks in 1820 out of the 5723 blocks in the country. The Central Ground Water Authority had written to the state governments to put a ban on water use in over 200 blocks after the ground water table reached alarming proportions due to rampant water exploitation and absence of ‘water conservation’.

Blatantly violating the instruction of ban on ground water use, in some of the regions in Punjab and Haryana the tube wells were dug deeper.

The Union Water Resources Ministry had suggested several ways of conserving ground water table including water harvesting.

Three districts of the national capital have also been classified as ‘dark area’ due to over-exploitation of ground water. Now thrust has been shifted to using river water as a policy.

However, no concrete measure has been taken in this regard in other states.

JPN/Bureau