This is the report on “Sustainable Groundwater Management” by the Working Group set up by the Planning Commission as a part of the process to prepare the 12th Five Year Plan.
The existing methodology of groundwater resources assessment is appropriate and suitable for country-wide groundwater resources estimation, considering the present status of database available with the Central and State agencies.
However, the following corrective or additional measures are suggested -
- Alternative techniques of recharge estimation should be taken up in areas where assessments derived through GEC do not match with the field situations.
- Micro-watershed (hard rock areas) and doab (alluvial areas) - wise assessment based on actual field estimation of recharge and discharge parameters (GEC-1997) to be taken up in few identified areas.
- Utilize regional scale assessment methods like space-based measurements for validation.
- All data elements need strengthening and refinements through R&D support in the form of project based studies (regional and local scales) and should be dovetailed with the County’s Ground Water Resource Assessment. For instance, studies on estimation of baseflow, recharge from streams, inflow-outflow across assessment boundary to be taken up on pilot basis in select areas.
- Continuous strengthening of database managed by the Central/ State Governments for groundwater resources estimation is required. Benchmarking of the data elements needs to be established in this regard.
- To develop prognostic models of resource estimates in changing climate.
- There must be a convergence of assessment of ground water in terms of quantity and quality, for accurate estimation.
- Groundwater resources assessment should be an iterative process involving evaluation and refinement by incorporating new techniques and giving due consideration to climate change.
- Aquifers are the repositories of ground water resources, hence aquifer mapping has been given due consideration for sustainable management of ground water in the 12th plan. Toposheets will be the base while initiating the mapping of aquifers. Aquifer mapping at the scale of 1:50000 should be initiated. Such mapping can be taken up at appropriate scales (higher or lower) as per specific requirements. Aquifer mapping shall be taken up as part of the 12th Plan as a co-ordinated effort. Led by CGWB and in close co-ordination with other organisations including research institutes and civil society organisations, aquifer mapping must lead to comprehensive groundwater management plans.
- Comprehensive plan for participatory groundwater management based on the understanding and outcome of aquifer mapping shall be taken up. Stakeholders should be motivated through appropriate mechanisms by exploring the possibility of a dedicated programme on groundwater or implementation through other appropriate programmes.
- Creation of state-level institutions to manage groundwater is suggested. There will be a parity of design and mandate in the development of such State level institutions, based on existing good practice. The working group also suggests creation of a network of institutions to facilitate the process of groundwater management. Strengthening the mandate and design of institutions dealing with groundwater to enable them to perform their roles is strongly recommended. Such strengthening will also draw from the fields of participatory management of resource, social science and economics.
- Strengthening of ground water monitoring network by increasing density and frequency of monitoring points for ground water level and water quality is recommended. A combination of participatory measurement as well as automation shall be taken up during such strengthening. Strengthening of institutions dealing with groundwater in terms of manpower/professionals and design is recommended to enable them to perform their roles.
- The technological advancements being utilized worldwide should be introduced in CGWB to upgrade the institutional, infrastructural and human resource capabilities and bring CGWB to an international level, with best possible techniques and technologies for better management of ground water resources in the country.
- It is suggested that Planning Commission constitute a system at the apex level to bring coherence among different ministries dealing with groundwater, in an attempt to ensure improved groundwater management and governance.