Jammu and Kashmir’s underground water resources safe: Govt study

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A study commissioned by the central government revealed that the underground water resources of Jammu and Kashmir are “safe” with less than 70% groundwater extraction, reported Press Trust of India (PTI). 

However, the study, as per the report, recommended judicious use of underground water through appropriate scientific interventions for optimal agricultural and domestic use, as well as a review of farmers’ subsidies for electricity, appropriate water pricing policy, and crop rotation for judicious cultivation of water extensive and non-extensive crops.

In its report, ‘National Compilation on Dynamic Ground Water Resources of India, 2020’, the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti said the ground water resources of Jammu and Kashmir have been assessed for valley areas and outer plains in all 20 districts. “The total annual groundwater recharge has been estimated at 4.68 bcm (billion cubic metre) and the annual extractable groundwater resources is 4.22 bcm. The total current annual groundwater extraction is 0.89 bcm and the stage of groundwater extraction is 21.03 per cent,” the report stated. It said all the assessment units have been categorized as ‘safe’. “As compared to the 2017 assessment, the total annual groundwater recharge and extractable groundwater resources have increased from 2.78 bcm to 4.68 bcm and 2.50 bcm to 4.22 bcm, respectively. “The annual groundwater extraction also has increased from 0.74 bcm to 0.89 bcm. The stage of groundwater extraction has decreased from 30.80 per cent to 21.03 per cent. The increase in annual groundwater recharge is due to the additional recharge from canal seepage, return flow from irrigated fields, tanks and ponds, lakes and other surface water bodies,” the report said.

As per the report, Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary A K Mehta, who chaired a meeting on Friday to consider the results of a report produced in June this year, entrusted the Jal Shakti department with the duty of preventing depletion of identified groundwater resources in the Union Territory.

The Jal Shakti department was also asked to undertake extensive information, education and communication (IEC) activities and promote water conservation efforts through enhanced public participation in Jal Jeevan Mission, which aims at providing functional tap water connection to every household, quoting an official spokesman PTI reported.

Regarding the quality of the underground water across Jammu and Kashmir, he said the meeting was informed that groundwater aquifers are safe for use. Mehta directed testing of water from these resources on 16 defined parameters along with checking the presence of heavy metals as per defined protocol, the spokesman added. 

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