Atal Bhujal Yojana

Atal Bhujal Yojana

News: Recently, the 5th meeting of the National Level Steering Committee (NLSC) of Atal Bhujal Yojana (ATAL JAL) was held to review the overall progress of the scheme.

What is Atal Bhujal Yojana?
• Atal Bhujal Yojana (Atal Jal) is a groundwater management scheme.
• The major objective of the Scheme is to improve the management of groundwater resources in select water stressed areas in identified states viz. Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
• The scheme has a total outlay of Rs.6000 crore and is to be implemented over a period of 5 years (2020-21 to 2024-25).
• It envisages people’s participation through the formation of ‘Water User Associations’, water budgeting, preparation & implementation of Gram-panchayat-wise water security plans.
• It is being implemented by the Ministry of Jal Shakti. The scheme is being funded by the Government of India and the World Bank on a 50:50 basis.

Status of Groundwater in India:
• According to a report by the United Nations titled “Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023”, some areas in the Indo-Gangetic basin in India have already passed the groundwater depletion tipping point and its entire northwestern region is predicted to experience critically low groundwater availability by 2025.
• The report also warns that more than half of the world’s major aquifers are depleting faster than they can naturally replenish
• India is the world’s largest user of groundwater, exceeding the use of the United States and China combined.
• 78 per cent of wells in Punjab are considered overexploited and the northwestern region as a whole is predicted to experience critically low groundwater availability by 2025.

Impact of Groundwater Depletion
• Lowering of the Water Table
• Land Subsidence: Groundwater often provides support to the soil. When it is depleted, the land above can sink or subside. This can lead to damage to infrastructure such as roads and buildings.
• Threat to Livelihoods: Groundwater depletion can threaten the livelihoods of more than one-third of India’s 1.4 billion residents. This is particularly true for farmers who rely on groundwater for irrigation.
• Food and Water Security: Reduced water availability due to groundwater depletion could threaten India’s food and water security. If the current trend continues, the rate of groundwater loss could triple by 2080.
• Socio-economic Impacts: Poverty rates are 9-10 percent higher in districts where groundwater tables have fallen below 8 meters, leaving small farmers particularly vulnerable.
• Earth's Axis to Tilt: According to a recent study in Geophysical Research Letters, it is claimed that excessive pumping of groundwater has caused the Earth's axis to tilt nearly 80 centimeters east between 1993 and 2010 alone and contributes to sea level rise.
• Environmental Impacts: Depletion of groundwater can lead to a decline in vegetation and loss of wildlife habitat. It can also lead to a decrease in water quality as contaminants become more concentrated.

Government of India initiatives:
• Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY)
• Jal Shakti Abhiyan- Catch the Rain Campaign
• Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme
• Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)
• Sahi Fasal campaign and Mission Amrit Sarovar both are water conservation initiatives. 

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