The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Atal Bhujal Yojana, a Rs 6,000 crore scheme for sustainable management of ground water resources, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
The scheme will cover 8,350 villages of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, he said.
The scheme envisages active participation of the communities in various activities such as formation of water user associations, monitoring and disseminating ground water data, water budgeting, preparation and implementation of gram panchayat-wise water security plans and information, education and communication (IEC) activities related to sustainable ground water management.
According to a study by the federal government think tank NITI Aayog, 21 Indian cities will run out of groundwater by next year, including the capital New Delhi and the information technology hub of Bengaluru. Two hundred thousand Indians already die every year because they don’t have a safe water supply, the report said. A shocking 600 million people face “high to extreme” water stress.
A rapidly urbanizing and developing India needs to drought-proof its cities and rationalize its farming. Water-harvesting must be a priority, alongside mechanisms for groundwater replenishment.
According to the country’s Central Water Commission, it requires at most 3,000 billion cubic meters of water annually and receives 4,000 billion cubic meters of rain.