Punjab ranks the highest in the country for over-exploitation of groundwater, government data shows.
Over-exploitation of the groundwater was highest in the states of Punjab (76 per cent) and Rajasthan (66 per cent), followed by Delhi (56 per cent) and Haryana (54 per cent), data shared by the central government in Lok Sabha last week shows.
There was no over-exploitation of groundwater reported in the states of West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Odisha, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa.
Groundwater levels in all the block, taluka, mandal level units from 12 states and Union territories—Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli—were reported to be in the safe category.
Some 16 per cent of the talukas, mandals, and block level units in the country fall under the "over-exploited" category, and 4 per cent fall under the "critical" category, government data shows.
Groundwater level of the 6,584 block, mandal, tehsil level units assessed by the Central Groundwater Board reveal that 4,520 units fall under the "safe category", according to the data shared by the government in Lok Sabha last week.
As many as 1,034 units have been categorised as "over-exploited", the data states.
Nearly 681 blocks, mandal, taluka level units in the country, constituting 10 per cent of the total figure, fall under the "semi-critical" category, while 253 fall under the "critical" category. Nearly 1 per cent of the blocks, mandals and talukas had saline water.
The figure is based on the government's 2013 assessment.
"As per the 2013 assessment, out of total 6,584 assessment units (blocks, talukas, mandals, watersheds, firkas) in the country, 1,034 units in 17 states and Union territories have been categorised as over-exploited where groundwater extraction is more than the net groundwater availability and there is significant long-term decline in water levels.
"Two hundred and fifty-three units have been categorised as critical, 681 units as semi-critical and 4,520 units as safe," the minister of state in the Jal Shakti Ministry shared the information in Parliament last week.
The data comes on the back of fears of Punjab turning into a desert state in less than 30 years.
Large swathes of India are currently reeling under drought, primarily because of poor water and depleting ground water tables.