Centre Bats For Rs 6,000 Crore Plan to Tackle Ground Water Depletion, With 50% World Bank Loan

| February 15 , 2018 , 09:14 IST

In view of fast depleting ground water in nearly 30 percent of the nation's assessed blocks, the Centre is pushing to fast-track its ambitious Rs 6,000 crore plan aimed at efficient management of available water resources, with a 50 percent loan from the World Bank.

The central scheme named 'Atal Bhujal Yojana' would be supported by the World Bank for 50 percent of the total amount as a loan, with the remaining 50 percent of the amount (Rs 3,000 crore) would be funded by the government itself through budgetary support.

The scheme is aimed at dealing with the deepening crisis of water scarcity in various parts of the country and will focus on recharging ground water resources with efficient water use at the local level.

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"We expect it to be approved before March 31, 2018 so that it could be implemented with effect from April 1," Union water resources secretary U P Singh said to TOI.

According to the latest assessment report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), 1,034 of 6584 assessed blocks in the country are over-exploited, known as 'dark zones', meaning that the annual ground water consumption in those blocks is more than the annual ground water recharge.

In addition, 934 blocks are already in different stages of criticality due to depletion without a recharge.

As per the CGWB report, the over-exploited blocks are mostly concentrated in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, western UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. Out of these areas, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi are the worst affected.

Since ground water in India provides for 60 percent of the nation's irrigation needs, 85  percent of rural drinking water needs and 50 percent of urban water requirements, depletion of the ground water in rapid speed can cause widespread problems throughout the affected areas.