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India Reeling Under Groundwater Crisis, Reveals Economic Survey

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Critical groundwater resources, which account for 40 percent of India’s water supply, are being depleted at unsustainable rates, said a report published by NITI Aayog, the Indian government’s main policy think tank, in 2018.

Overexploitation of groundwater resources and a decrease in “safe” groundwater assessment units have worsened India’s groundwater crisis, the Economic Survey of India (ESI) 2021-22 has revealed.
Presented in the Indian Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday, the survey revealed that although the overall rate of groundwater development (annual groundwater draft/groundwater availability) is 63 percent, the Indian agricultural state of Punjab has extracted more than 100 percent of its groundwater.

Overall, the overexploitation of groundwater resources or extraction that exceeds the annually replenishable groundwater recharge, was reported in northwestern areas of the country and parts of southern India in 2020.

Groundwater resource assessments have been jointly carried out by states and federal government agencies since 2004.

In 2018, NITI Aayog in its report, stated that at least 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to potable water.

According to the new projections, the crisis will continue to worsen until 2030, leading to an eventual six percent loss in the country’s national income.

In its report, NITI Aayog called groundwater depletion “one of the largest service delivery challenges in the world in terms of scale”.

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