India is the largest user of groundwater in the world. Agriculture, rural and urban domestic water supply and increasingly industries are shaping the dependency on groundwater. More importantly, in the case of India as in most of South Asia, groundwater is critical to ensure drinking water security besides being the lifeline for the livelihoods of millions of small and marginal farmers.
In Kerala, around half the urban population and 80% of the rural population depend on open wells on their domestic water needs. But in the last decade, the majority of observatory wells recorded an average annual decline of half a meter.
The Gond dynasties mainly flourished in the Central highlands of India. This region includes Sagar, Bhopal, and nearly half of Narmada valley, including the flanks of Vindhya and the Satpuda mountain ranges of southern Madhya Pradesh. The principal states of the Gonds were Garha-Mandla (1300 to 1789), Devgarh, Kherla and Chanda.
The environment versus development debate has increasingly become more polarised, with discussions in the public domain revealing a stark contrast of views. Development has increasingly come to symbolise ‘doing something’ and ensuring ‘visible outputs’, largely in the form of infrastructure.
People in remote hamlets left out by previous schemes like Swajal and Sector Wide Approach Program of the Uttarakhand Jal Nigam and Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan longed for household-level piped water supply for drinking and domestic purposes.
India’s Himalayan rivers have been a cradle of civilisational development and a centre for faith and culture for ages. Ganga being a fertile basin has been a significant contributor to our agricultural economy as well as our river-based agrarian development.
Groundwater fulfills the drinking water requirements of nearly 85% and 50% of the rural and urban Indian population, respectively. 65% of the total irrigated area utilizes groundwater. It also caters to the water needs of the industrial sector in India.
Groundwater depletion, a growing challenge for India
Kathayi, a scheduled tribe (ST) dominated village in the midst of the forested stretches of Shahnagar block in Panna district faces acute water scarcity during the 3-4 summer months. Through the government schemes, three wells and two hand pumps were installed in this 75 household village in the last 10-15 years, but most of them are dysfunctional now.
The ‘Managing Aquifer Recharge and Sustaining Groundwater Use through Village-level Intervention’ (MARVI) project is being undertaken since February 2012 with the overall aim to improve the security of irrigation water supplies and enhance livelihood opportunities for rural communities in India.