What stands a
few feet under the land we stand on, is Water! That is Groundwater. Unseen and
unfelt, Groundwater is the biggest source of fresh water for the earth. But for
beneath the soil plays a vital role in keeping human civilization going. It
forms the source of freshwater in our lakes and ponds, sometimes also adding to
our rivers. Irrigation is the biggest source of extraction of this water. Where
irrigation is majorly dependent upon groundwater depletion, human-caused
climatic changes and over-exploitation of this water have come to a point when
we can see fatal consequences ahead of us.
Let's draw a
picture of rural India. All of us, almost invariably, can see a 'well' in the
picture. Borewells and tube-wells had been the primary source of water to the
population for centuries, until the water levels in the wells dropped down so
low that the wells were left empty and dry. Villagers in India have been seen
to report about how bore wells have become deeper over the years. Previously,
digging around 150ft used to fetch water in these wells but in the last 10
years, this depth has had to be doubled. This is one great concern as it
indicates so efficiently of the groundwater over-exploitation that has already
also the source of strength for the soil and the vegetation above it. It keeps
the soil steady and compact, preventing erosion, brittleness, and loss of
greenery. As the water level keeps going down, these benefits are gradually
turning into survival threats.
According to a
2019 report, India ranks at #13 on Aqueduct's list of ''extremely highly''
water-stressed countries. Home to a quarter of the world's population, this
news is a disaster for India.
In the northern
and eastern India mainly, groundwater depletion due to irrigation has led to a
condition where farmers are in distress about acquiring the optimum amount of
water for their crops. The problem would not have been so severe had there been
an equal amount of groundwater replenishing through rainfall. Courtesy to the
increase in pollution, greenhouse effect, and accompanying climatic changes,
such a guarantee at rainfall can barely be drawn.
The recent water deficiency in Chennai, India has set a landmark in the history of the water crisis in India and the whole world. Reports say that over 500 million people residing in almost 10 Indian states have been affected by this. Swift action, education to farmers on water conservation, technological revolution to curb groundwater exploitation – these are the needs of the hour. Unless such measures are taken with utmost priority, the day is not far when water shall come out as the world's most expensive leisure, eventually going down to unavailability of the same.