Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Groundwater assessment in India


Mains Paper 1: Geography| Distribution of key natural resources

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Groundwater assessment

Mains level: Status of groundwater availability in India


  • With about 250 cubic km of extraction in a year, of which 85 per cent is used for agriculture, India is the largest extractor of groundwater in the world.
  • Almost the entire rural water supply and over half of urban water demand is catered by aquifers.
  • It is essential to assess this invaluable, invisible resource for its proper management.

Groundwater types in India

  • In India, we divide ground- water resource into dynamic or replenishable and static or in-situ.
  • The dynamic component is the annual recharge of aquifers while the static resource is the groundwater volume available at depth of rock formations, stored over hundreds or thousands of years.


  • Southwestern monsoon is the major source of groundwater recharge.
  • India is one of the few countries engaged in a detailed assessment of the dynamic component at regular intervals since 2005.
  • Post 2009, the estimation is made every two years, the latest being in 2013.
  • The resource is assessed for each block/taluka/firka for all states and union territories in a joint endeavour by states and the Centre under the supervision of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).
  • The assessment calculates the recharge to aquifer and the extraction to work out the Stage of Groundwater Development (extraction/resource 100), or SOD.
  • The lower the SOD, the better the aquifer or area is.

Utility of SOD

  • The dynamic resource and SOD are extensively used in policy and governance, for instance, to prioritise government funding for schemes or issuing NOC by the Central Ground Water Authority to extract groundwater by industries.
  • The latest assessment in 2013 pegs India’s dynamic resources at 447 cu km, an increase of 14 cu km from 2011.
  • The extraction (an estimate of how much is taken out from aquifer for different societal uses) has also increased by 8 cu km.
  • SOD has remained the same, at 62 per cent.
  • However, recharge of the deeper aquifers and extraction from the deeper aquifer is not a part of this assessment.

Static component is more exploited

  • In overexploited areas there is an incremental eating up of the static resource, resulting in permanent damage to aquifers.
  • The static component should be used in case of emergency like drought.
  • Effort should be made to assess the static resource countrywide.

Assist this newscard with:

[pib] Management of Ground Water

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