Bihar government to bring ‘Ground Water Conservation Bill’ as water crisis engulfs state

As groundwater levels across Bihar show signs of severe stress, the state has initiated a series of measures to tide over the water crisis. In a meeting with state officials, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar directed the government premises, school, colleges to have water harvesting facility. Along with this, water recharging technique needs to be in practice.

Eyeing the threat Nitish Kumar’s government has decided to bring in a law for water conservation. It contains the following points

  • The Bill called ‘the Bihar Ground Water Conservation Bill, 2019’ aims to set up Bihar State Ground Water Conservation Authority which will have district level authorities.
  • The Bill lays emphasis on setting up a regulatory system for water users in the area where the water level has seen decline.
  • Will monitor the quality and availability of groundwater.
  • Will put a check on indiscriminate exploitation of groundwater.
  • Hand pumps to have a model to prevent indiscriminate exploitation of groundwater.
  • And to raise awareness among people to practice rainwater harvesting and water recharging.

Formation of an authority to regulate the groundwater under the supervision of the state government and adoption of rainwater harvesting techniques (recharge pits, trench, construction of gully plugs, etc.) for groundwater recharge in urban and rural areas were also put on table but was not enacted upon.

Majority region of the state is facing an acute drinking and irrigation water scarcity

As per the Metrological department record, the state has been receiving less rainfall compared to the last decade. As ponds disappear, the people are forced to depend on deep bore wells, resulting in the declination of groundwater levels.

As per 2016-17 report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) the water level in May 2016 with respect to the pre-monsoon decadal mean of May (i.e. May 2006 to May 2015), witnessed a fall of 395 Hydrograph Network Stations (HNS) in the state which makes up about 67% of the 594 HNS. HNS is a point location representing the topmost aquifer in that location.

According to a senior official of the Bihar State Disaster Management Authority (BSDMA)- water level has dropped by 10-12 feet in most parts of the state. Magadh region of South Bihar comprising of Gaya, Aurangabad, Arwal, Nawada and Jehanabad has been facing water crisis since long but the alarming condition of water unavailability in North Bihar districts such as Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Madhubani has put the state government in a fix.

According to an official record, the state has nearly 1,99,000 water bodies out of which more than 12,000 have been encroached by real estate and land barons. For this reason, the Bihar government was slammed by the Patna High Court.

The state government will come out with a regulation to put a cap on the use of groundwater after a certain limit.

Last year, speaking at the 11th foundation day of the Bihar State Disaster Management Authority, CM Nitish Kumar who also is the Chairman of the authority said, “Drought has been declared in 275 blocks across 24 districts (Bihar has total 38 districts). The groundwater level is going down, so there could be scarcity of drinking water from January-February.”

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