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Groundwater in Rajasthan: Some Reflections Bhanu Neupane, PhD, DBA Regional Program Specialist UNESCO

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Presentation on theme: "Groundwater in Rajasthan: Some Reflections Bhanu Neupane, PhD, DBA Regional Program Specialist UNESCO"— Presentation transcript:

1 Groundwater in Rajasthan: Some Reflections Bhanu Neupane, PhD, DBA Regional Program Specialist UNESCO

2 Outline Some general overview Challenges Faced in Rajasthan Some suggestions ‘When the well is dry we know the worth of water.’ -- Ben Franklin


4 If you Pick up a SC journal on water issues of India Browse an Indian site on environment on the web Read a news item about water india Etc.

5 You will find “more-or-less” the following noted: Groundwater is depleting in India and this can arrest the pace of development. This is happening because: – Less cooperative societies – Not Enough Data – Lack of use of “New Technology” – Uncertain science – Poor Coordination – No Information Sharing – Expert inputs poor – No resources and money – Government irresponsible not allocating resources

6 Reality in Rajasthan in particular, which is the driest state in India Modern development have increased demands for groundwater resources. The welfare of society is tied to the sustainable exploitation of water resources. State is “trying to keep pace with the development in other states of India”

7 Reality in Rajasthan Water insecurity to many is based on inadequate water of sufficient quantity and quality to meet domestic needs: a precondition for effective primary health. Most districts still are lagging behind to achieve 2015 goals agreed at the turn of the century. – 45% of the total population still lacks access to safe and adequate quantity of drinking water – Agriculture continues to remain the mainstay of economy – Growth in secondary and service sector also is suffering due to poor availability of water

8 Reality… Numerous water – related diseases plague the Rajasthani communities The district sees out migration from because of lack of water. Agriculture economy of the region is declining (but still being pushed as the major sector of state’s economy) About 25% of entire Rajasthan live in poverty and depravity Hunger and malnutrition are one of the highest in India

9 Rajasthan Water Resources and potential users Source: Report on the Expert Committee on Integrated Development of Water Resources, June 2005

10 Rajasthan’s Water Resources (billion cum), 2000

11 Groundwater as THE solution The increasing popularity of groundwater stem from various attractive features of it: – It can be tapped almost everywhere – Local fix – It is comparatively cleaner for consumption (the effect may not be visible immediately, viz. arsenic) – Initial capital cost of extracting groundwater is still considered cheaper than the conventional treatment of surface water for consumption.

12 Source: State and Central Ground Water Board reports for various years, Government of Rajasthan and Government of India

13 Source: Report on the Expert Committee on Integrated Development of Water Resources, June 2005

14 Groundwater Quality Comparison of Rajasthan with rest of India

15 consequences Poor health and hygiene Food insecurity Outbreak of Diseases Impact on Economy

16 Global Groundwater Overdraft: Change in Cereal Production from Baseline 2025 Source: Rosegrant et al. 2002. World Water and Food to 2025: Dealing with Scarcity

17 Number of Malnourished Children by Region 1997 and 2025 Baseline million children Source: Rosegrant et al. 2005. Looking Ahead: Long-Term Prospects for Africa’s Food and Nutrition Security (in press)

18 Solution?

19 Sustainable Groundwater Management ‘Development and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained for an indefinite time without causing unacceptable environmental, economic or social consequences.’ (W. Alley et al., 1999) In both quality and quantity terms – Most easy statement to read but equally a difficult construct to implement!

20 The science of groundwater is young! Unlike Surface water, groundwater management is very recent. The science of groundwater is young!

21 Groundwater management is complicated Linked to a constellation of issues – State thus governance – Community thus management – Agriculture/industry/ water supply thus poverty and livelihood – Partnership thus stakeholdership, gender issues… – Most importantly it is linked to the WATER CYCLE

22 Precipitation = Infiltration + Surface Runoff + Evaporation/Evapotranspiration Precipitation is the ultimate source of the available water resource for a given area which generally cannot be change.

23 Precipitation = Infiltration + Surface Runoff + Evaporation/Evapotranspiration The total amount of water available in an area cant be increased unless through inter basin transfer or interlinking of rivers or through cloud seeding. Reducing the surface runoff or reducing the rate of evaporation/evapotranspiration can be the only solution to augment the available resources. Surface Runoff can be reduced by inducing artificial recharge techniques Transpiration/Evapotranspiration losses can be reduced by improving agriculture practices.

24 Main Problems related to water availability in Rajasthan Scanty and Uncertain Precipitation confined usually to 2 months. (300-500 mm annually) Nearly two-thirds of the state falls within the arid to semi-arid category. Lack of adequate surface water supplies Heavy stress on groundwater resources which has resulted in water table decline.

25 Water Use Statistics for Rajasthan Total available water from external and internal sources: 32 BCM Per Capita availability: 800 cum/yr Current Total water requirement: 40 BCM Current deficit of water: 8BCM Deficit likely to be 9BCM by 2015

26 Groundwater situation for Rajasthan Annual Replenishable Groundwater Resource = 11.56 BCM/Yr Net annual Groundwater availability = 10.38 BCM/Yr Annual groundwater draft = 12.99 BCM/Yr Stage of Ground Water Development = 125 % (2007) In some areas the groundwater development is as high as 600% How many of you are aware about crop varieties that can thrive on precipitation as low as 300 mm/annum?

27 What is the Solution?? Reducing Surface Runoff YES :Recharging groundwater sources through artificial recharge. :Roof Top harvesting Reducing Evapotranspiration/Evaporation YES :Improving agriculture practices :Conjunctive use of surface and groundwater resources

28 Agriculture Interventions Best strategy – discontinue agriculture – But it is the source of livelihood for millions of Rajasthanis Select drought resistant variety – Very poor success Reduce or obliterate energy subsidy – Political agenda – no can do! Find new methods of Irrigation – Sprinkler and drip irrigation (proven not successful) – Sub-surface drip irrigation (with WUE as high as 90-95% under trial stage)

29 Yields and water requirements of irrigated and rain-fed agriculture Irrigation has the potential to provide higher yields than rain-fed agriculture but water requirements are also much higher. Source: FAO, 2005 Yields response to irrigation

30 Rain Water Harvesting as a solution Surface run off potential in Rajasthan: 26BCM Government district wise master plan for rainwater harvesting structure proposes 47,698 structures Till 2005, 16,803 structures have been completed PROBLEM: Construction of harvesting structures have major environmental and cost implications.

31 Advantages of using aquifers as recharge structures Construction of check dams, Anicuts along small streams are an important step in this direction Helps in recharging groundwater in the adjacent areas Water availability for drinking and domestic purpose in the wells in the downstream area even in drought years MN Sadguru Foundation and Tarun Bhagat Sangh have effectively carried out rain water harvesting through this technique.

32 Roof Top Harvesting Roof Top harvesting is the most effective technique for augmenting drinking water supplies. Water collected can be stored in tanks to be used at a later stage. This mechanism basically has two advantages over artificial recharges structures such as ponds, check dams or induced aquifer recharge – In situ – Maintain environmental flows Contd……

33 Roof Top Harvesting The volume of water that can be made available through roof top harvesting is equal to the amount of rainfall, the surface area of the roof and the run off co-efficient of the roof Contd….. Co-efficient of run off for different type of roofs Source: Roof top harvesting Manual, Prepared by AFPRO for UNICEF

34 Considering the average annual rainfall in Rajasthan of about 500 mm, a house with a roof area (concrete roof) of 50 m 2 can collect about 17500 lts of water Considering 10 lts/day/person requirement for a 5 member family, this water will be sufficient for 350 days With the cost of water around Rs 1.5/lt, the above quantity will help in saving around Rs.26000 per year Roof Top Harvesting Contd…..

35 However initial costs are involved during the construction of the roof top harvesting system and installation of storage tanks which may be between Rs 15000 to Rs.20000 (Approx US $ 350-550) This one time investment may be quite high for many of the rural household therefore government should come up with schemes of providing such systems at a subsidized cost. Roof Top Harvesting Contd…..

36 Some policy Suggestions Optimal combination of different policy measures: – regulation governing groundwater abstraction, – provision of economic incentives/disincentives to reduce groundwater abstraction (e.g. charges for groundwater usage and wastewater discharge), – provision of alternative water resources to groundwater, and support for the major groundwater users in their water- saving activities Management strategy needs to be regularly reviewed and updated to meet the changes over time.

37 Some policy Suggestions Groundwater conservation should be made an integral part of landuse planning. – Establishment or protection of replenishing zones; – Introduction of decentralized recharge schemes in household or community ; – Installation of water-saving technology stipulated in the building code (e.g. recycled water for flushing toilets).

38 Some policy Suggestions Abstraction rights should be assigned to the government in statutory form for effective groundwater control. – Panel of different stakeholders including experts and groundwater users can be established to regularly monitor the management policy. – Participatory planning and management of groundwater. – Available government resources should be allocated more to water reuse and recycling. – Fertilizer inputs should be capped to reduce the nitrate contamination of groundwater.

39 Some policy Suggestions Enforce usage charges, wastewater treatment charges and other economic disincentives for groundwater usage. – Charging for groundwater usage can be an effective tool – Charges especially wastewater discharge/ treatment charges can contribute to the reduction in groundwater abstraction,

40 BUT WHO WILL BELL THESE CATS? Custodianship of water not yet determined – Center or state Water continues to remain as a “vote agenda” Energy tariff is free for farmers (8 hrs of farm pumping is free) Model bills have been prepared for adoption and enforcement – not utilized (again state can overrule center’s decisions) Groundwater authorities (CGWB, GWA remain ineffective) National water development priority still surface water centric

41 International Hydrological ProgrammeDEPENDENCIESSOCIETALRESPONSES STRESS HYDROLOGICAL CYCLE Governance Poverty Ecosystems at risk Social Challenges Groundwater

42 Under G-WADI Evaluation of low cost water harvesting structure – Pilot projects Assessment of environmental gains of recharge structures – Has been included as a One-UN agenda Research and demonstration on effectiveness of sub- surface irrigation – Demonstration and pilot project One basin is developing under G-WADI and another one is being proposed

43 UNESCO Water Portal (

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