Overexploitation of groundwater highest in Punjab: Government

Punjab no.1 in overexploitation of groundwater 

According to the information placed by the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in the ongoing session of the Rajya Sabha, in Punjab, 79 percent of the assessment units showed the annual groundwater extraction to be more than the assessed annual extractable groundwater resources. Punjab is followed by Delhi with 65 percent overexploitation, Rajasthan with 63 percent and Haryana with 61 percent. The major reason for the overexploitation of groundwater in Punjab is the largescale cultivation of paddy in the state. Along with this, the rains in the state this season have been 10 percent below the long period average so far leading to low recharge of groundwater. (The Tribune)

Country observes a rise of 145 percent in arsenic-affected habitations in last five years

According to data shared with the Parliament, the number of arsenic-affected habitations, group of households at a community level in a village, in the country have increased by145 percent in the last five years. From 1,800 arsenic-affected habitations in 2015, the number has increased to 4,421 as on September 17, 2020, informed the Jal Shakti Ministry. These habitations are mainly in Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh (UP). On the contrary, the number of fluoride affected habitations have significantly come down in the last five years — from 12,727 in 2015 to 5,485 as of September 13, 2020. (Down to Earth)

Government declares Telangana a fluorosis-free state

At the time of formation of the state in the year 2014, the fluoride-affected villages in Telangana were 967. However, following the successful implementation of Mission Bhageeratha, the number of these villages have come down to zero. The initiative was launched to supply safe drinking water to every house in the state and reduce the dependency of people on groundwater. As part of the initiative, the state government built a water treatment plant at a cost of Rs 436 crore to provide safe drinking water to 585 affected villages. In the last five to six years, there have been no new fluorosis victims in the state. (Pune Mirror)

Drought prone Jhansi turns lockdown into opportunity by reviving ponds

Under “One Village, One Pond” initiative launched by the district administration, as many as 325 ponds have been revived in drought-prone Bundelkhand’s Jhansi district. The basic idea behind the initiative, which is also a part of MGNREGA scheme, was to have one pond in good condition in each gram panchayat of the district. A total of 496 gram panchayats exist as of now in Jhansi. The coronavirus-induced lockdown had resulted in 11,000 migrant workers returning to the state who were employed in the pond-revival works and till now 1.12 lakh people in the district have received employment under the MGNREGA scheme because of this initiative. (The Indian Express)

Study recognises focus areas under the aspirational district programme

A study assessing the impact of the aspirational district programme (AFP) has suggested that the government needs to focus on areas such as agriculture, water resources, financial inclusion and skill development under the programme. In January 2018, the government had launched ADP with an aim to accelerate improvement in the socio-economic indicators of the most underdeveloped districts of the country. The study, that has surveyed 112 districts where the programme has been implemented, has recommended that the government streamline the survey and collection mechanism, update plan of action based on new learnings, leverage data to design effective evaluation systems while driving targeted investments through partner ecosystems while engaging in customised local level interventions. (The Economic Times)

This is a roundup of important news published between September 7 - 21, 2020. Also, read policy matters this week.