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'Decline in water table is a matter of serious concern, says Manmohan Singh

April 10, 2012 - New Delhi

Asserting that the decline in the water table across the country is a matter of serious concern, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said that conserving our groundwater is now an urgent priority because we depend on it for more than two thirds of our water needs.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of India Water Week, here, Dr. Singh said: "The present legal situation gives every land holder the right to pump unlimited quantities of water from a bore well on his own ground. There is no regulation of ground water extraction and no coordination among competing uses. We need to move to a situation where ground-water can be treated as a common property resource,"

He said the Planning Commission had identified the task of managing the country's water resources in a rational and sustainable manner as one of the critical challenges in the Twelfth Five year Plan.

"It will require action on many fronts and coordination across different sectors of our economy," he added.

He said the Government had launched a National Water Mission as part of its Action Plan on Climate Change.

"The main objective of this Mission is to achieve integrated management of water resources by conserving water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution both across and within various States of the Union, he added.

Dr. Singh further said that, with around 17 per cent of the world's population but only four per cent of its usable fresh water, India has a scarcity of water.

"Rapid economic growth and urbanisation are widening the demand supply gap. Climate change could further aggravate the availability of water in the country as it threatens the water cycle," he said.

"Our water bodies are getting increasingly polluted by untreated industrial effluents and sewage. Groundwater levels are falling in many parts due to excess drawals leading to contamination with fluoride, arsenic and other chemicals. The practice of open defecation, which regrettably is all too widespread, contributes to contaminating potable water sources," he added.


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