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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : Minister calls for efficient ground water management

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Saturday, September 16, 2000


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Minister calls for efficient ground water management

By Our Staff Correspondent

BHUBANESWAR, SEPT. 15. The Union Water Resources Minister, Mr. Arjun Charan Sethi, today called for sustainable development and efficient management of ground water to meet water scarcity in the country.

Inaugurating a seminar on ``Ground Water Resources of Orissa for 2020'' here, Mr. Sethi said efficient management of ground water was necessary because it had proved to be the most preferred source in the country, both for irrigation and drinking purposes. At present nearly 90 per cent of the rural, 50 per cent of the urban and industrial water supplies and more than 50 per cent of the irrigated water supply requirement were met by ground water.

The replenishable ground water resources of the country were estimated at 432 billion cubic meters (BCM) and after keeping a provision of 71 BCM per year for domestic and industrial uses, 361 BCM was available for irrigation. Based on crop water requirement and availability of cultivable land, utilisable irrigation potential that could be created from ground water had been estimated at 64.05 million hectares.

Stating that availability of ground water was satisfactory in the country, the Minister, however, said that in high-demand areas, development of ground water had caused a decline in its level, failure of wells, deterioration in water quality and saline encroachment in coastal areas. Urgent steps were required to be taken in these areas to augment the ground water resources through various artificial methods.

Mr. Sethi said total replenishable ground water resources of Orissa had been assessed at 20 lakh hectare meters. Though water resources were abundant in Orissa, the development of ground water was only about 10 per cent. Expressing concern over the problem of drinking water shortage in several towns of the State during summer, he said rain water harvesting structures should be given high priority.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister, Mr. Naveen Patnaik, underlined the need to draw up a comprehensive programme for conservation of rain water in the State. Even though the State received about 1500 mm rainfall every year it reeled under drought and drinking water scarcity, especially during summer. In about 38 years, from 1961 to 1999, there were 13 droughts of which five were severe in Orissa.

Mr. Patnaik said there was scarcity in 21 districts of the State due to terrain conditions and vagaries of the monsoon.

Observing that the ultimate irrigation potential achieved by March, 2000, had been estimated at 41.58 per cent of total irrigable land, Mr. Patnaik said that with population growth, irrigation would be the most important factor to increase food and agricultural production.

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