Groundwater depletion raises concerns for Odisha

Over exploitation of groundwater accompanied by frequent dry spells have resulted in a decline of groundwater level by 6.71% between 2009 and 2017 in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: At a time when the State is already facing acute water crisis due to lack of sufficient rainfall, people expressed deep concerns after Odisha Water Resources Minister, Raghunandan Das on Thursday informed that the groundwater level has decreased by 6.71 per cent between 2009 and 2017 in the State.

In his written reply to a question by Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati in the State Assembly, the minister informed that 1.12 billion cubic metres of groundwater has depleted between 2009 and 2017.

Citing the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), the minister stated that the groundwater level in the State stood at 16.69 billion cubic metres in 2009 while it reduced by 1.12 billion cubic metres to 15.57 billion in 2017, resulting in a total decline of 6.71 per cent.

Das further said that the groundwater is fast depleting in Koraput district. As per the CGWB data, in 1999, the groundwater level in the district was 0.82 billion cubic metres while currently it is just 0.48 billion cubic metres.

Meanwhile, it is alleged that lack of groundwater management and intense pumping are major reasons behind the severe depletion. While monsoon rainfall contributes to groundwater recharge, rainfall deficit in the last few years has also reportedly fuelled the depletion.

It is believed that if groundwater is depleted and a particular region experiences drought for two–three years consecutively, the State will face serious challenges and a time may come when the availability of drinking water will also become a huge problem.

Recharge of groundwater can take years; hence, proper groundwater management and making farmers aware of the proper use of groundwater for irrigation purpose will help curb the depletion to a major extent, believe experts.