According to the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), India is the largest user of groundwater resources in the world. “Out of the total of 6,584 assessment units, 1,034 have been categorised as ‘over-exploited’, 253 as ‘critical’, 681 as ‘semi-critical’ and 4,520 as ‘safe’. The remaining 96 assessment units have been classified as ‘saline’,” reveals information with the MoWR.
Groundwater extraction in the country largely goes towards irrigation in agricultural activities. This accounts for 228 BCM, which amounts to 90% of the annual ground water extraction. “The remaining 10% of extraction (25 BCM) is for drinking & domestic as well as industrial uses. Industrial use is estimated to account for only about 5% of the annual ground water extraction in the country,” the MoWR says.
The WCF introduced by these guidelines will “progressively increase from safe to over-expolited areas” and from “low to high water consuming industries”. It will also serve as a deterrent to large-scale groundwater extraction by industries, the guidelines state.
The guidelines also encourage the use of recycled and treated sewage water. The revised guidelines exempts requirement of No Objection Certificate to “agricultural users, users employing non-energised means to extract water, individual households and Armed Forces Establishments during operational deployment or during mobilization in forward locations”.