The India government and the World Bank on Monday signed a USD 450 million loan agreement to support the national programme to arrest the country's depleting groundwater levels and strengthen groundwater institutions.
The World Bank-supported Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) - National Groundwater Management Improvement Programme will be implemented in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh and cover 78 districts. These states span both the hard rock aquifers of peninsular India and the alluvial aquifers of the Indo-Gangetic plains. They were selected based on several criteria, including the degree of groundwater exploitation and degradation, established legal and regulatory instruments, institutional readiness, and experience in implementing initiatives related to groundwater management, as per an official release.
The programme will, among other things, enhance the recharge of aquifers and introduce water conservation practices; promote activities related to water harvesting, water management, and crop alignment; create an institutional structure for sustainable groundwater management, and equip communities and stakeholders to sustainably manage groundwater.
Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance said that in India, groundwater is an important source for rural and urban domestic water supplies and its depletion is a cause of concern.
He said that the Atal Bhujal Yojana intends to strengthen the institutional framework for participatory groundwater management and encourage behavioural changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management. The use of cutting-edge technology, involving Artificial Intelligence and space technology will further help in better implementation of the programme.
The loan agreement was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, on behalf of the Government of India and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank. Ahmad said that groundwater is India's most crucial water reserve and managing this national resource is the need of the hour. This programme will contribute to rural livelihoods and in the context of climatic shifts, build the resilience of the rural economy. But its impact will also be felt globally as it stands as one of the important programmes of groundwater management worldwide. (ANI)