India Under Severe Water Stress - NASA!!!

10 Sep 2009, Comments: | Views: 3730 | | Category: Water, India

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  The Above Image shows the declining Ground Water Level under North Western India the Dark Red color signifies a ground water level of -12 cms, where as the dark blue signifies +12 cms.(source: NASA)

Beneath Northern India’s irrigated fields of wheat, rice, and barley ... beneath its densely populated cities of Jaipur and New Delhi, the groundwater has been disappearing. Halfway around the world, hydrologists, including Matt Rodell of NASA, have been hunting for it. Where is northern India’s underground water supply going? According to Rodell and colleagues, it is being pumped and consumed by human activities -- principally to irrigate cropland -- faster than the aquifers can be replenished by natural processes. They based their conclusions -- published in the August 20 issue of Nature -- on observations from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE).

Using NASA's GRACE satellite observations, one can observe and monitor water changes in critical areas of the world, from one month to the next, without leaving our desks , these satellites provide a window to underground water storage changes.

 
The northern Indian states of Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana have all of the ingredients for groundwater depletion: staggering population growth, rapid economic development and water-hungry farms, which account for about 95 percent of groundwater use in the region. Data provided by India's Ministry of Water Resources suggested groundwater use was exceeding natural replenishment, but the regional rate of depletion was unknown. The NASA's GRACE team has ascertained the rate of depletion, it is very alarming. It was found that groundwater levels have been declining by an average of one meter every three years (one foot per year). More than 109 cubic km (26 cubic miles) of groundwater disappeared between 2002 and 2008 -- double the capacity of India's largest surface water reservoir, the Upper Wainganga, and triple that of Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States.The loss is particularly alarming because it occurred when there were no unusual trends in rainfall. In fact, rainfall was slightly above normal for the period
 
So it can be understood how alarming the situation is? But still the unsustainable way of cultivation continues. This is accelerated by the free electricity being provided for pumping out water. In certain districts of Punjab, farmers are going much deeper into earth, affecting the acquifiers that took thousands of years to build up. If this hasn't been stopped, the affects are more catastrophic in the situations of drought and vagaries of monsoons. This is partly also due to change of eating habits of people shifting to rice from wheat, rice requires more water compared to wheat. 
 
It is the time when people, government agenices, farmers should take bold steps like shifting to low water consuming varities, new techniques of rice cultivation like SRI.....
 
But in India till a problem grows into a disaster an epidemic .. there will be no stimulus to do the things!!!
 
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