Explained: Atal Bhujal Yojana — Why a scheme for groundwater

News:Recently,the Prime Minister has launched the Atal Bhujal Yojana amid growing concerns over the country’s groundwater resources.


About Groundwater crisis in India:

  • India accounts for 16% of the world’s population living in less than 2.5% of the global area and has just 4% of the global water resources.
  • Groundwater is one of the most important water sources in India accounting for 63% of all irrigation water and over 80% of the rural and urban domestic water supplies. 
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Water Development Report has stated that India is the largest extractor of groundwater in the world. 
  • However,54% of India’s groundwater wells have declined over the past seven years and 21 major cities are expected to run out of groundwater by 2020.

What is the need for Atal Bhujal Yojana?

  • According to the Central Water Commission (CWC),the estimated water resources potential of the country which occurs as natural runoff in the rivers is 1,999 billion cubic metres. 
  • Of this,the estimated utilisable resources are 1,122 billion cubic metres per year — 690 BCM per year surface water and 432 BCM per year replenishable groundwater.
  • However,with the population rising,demand for water will increase manifold in coming years.But the per capita availability in the country will decrease from 1,434 cubic metres in 2025 to 1,219 cubic metres in 2050.
  • Further,the Jal Shakti ministry has said that compared to the decadal average for 2009-18,there has also been a decline in the groundwater level in 61% of wells monitored by the Central Ground Water Board(CGWB).
  • The CGWB has also classified the country’s assessment units (blocks, taluks, mandals etc) into safe, semi-critical and over-exploited in terms of groundwater resources.
  • It has classified 14% of the country’s assessment units as semi-critical, 5% as critical and 17% as over-exploited as of 2017.

About Atal Bhujal Yojana:

  • Atal Bhujal Yojana is a central sector scheme under the ministry of Jal Shakti.The scheme was announced in the 2016-17 Union Budget.
  • It aims to recharge groundwater sources and ensure the efficient use of water by involving people at the local level.
  • The funding pattern of the scheme is 50:50 between the Government of India and the World Bank.
  • The scheme will seek to strengthen the institutional framework and bring about behavioural changes at community level for sustainable groundwater resource management.It envisages community-led Water Security Plans.
  • The scheme will be implemented in water-stressed areas of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.

Additional information:

About Central water commission (CWC)

  • It is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources
  • It functions as an attached office of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. It was founded in 1945 and is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • It is mandated with the initiation and coordination of schemes introduced by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.