CAG on Groundwater Management – UPSC GS3

Context: Comptroller and Auditor General of India(CAG) has conducted a performance audit of groundwater management and regulation to analyse the extent of groundwater scarcity in the country.
CAG Audit Report on Groundwater
  • The audit was conducted on the basis of five years of data (2013-2018) on groundwater management and regulation in India.
  • Key findings:
    • Between 2004 and 2017, the stage of extraction of groundwater has increased from 58% to 63%.
    • Only 19 states/UTs have enacted legislation for the management of groundwater. Among them, the legislation was only partially implemented in four states while in six other states, its enactment was pending for various reasons.
    • There were deficiencies observed in schemes of some states such as delay in completion of schemes, groundwater level data not being analysed before recommending proposals for the construction of tube wells, delay in finalisation of the project on Ground Water Recharge action plan among others.
    • Among units granted license by the Bureau of Indian Standards(BIS) in 15 states of India, 78% were extracting groundwater without no-objection certificates(NOC). 
    • There is a major threat in achieving SDG goal 6 (clean water and sanitation for all) as the implementation and management of policies is extremely weak.
  • There is an urgent need for a strong mechanism for the management of groundwater in India so that regulations are effectively and efficiently implemented.
  • All the states shall adopt a model groundwater bill and try to regulate their own groundwater.
  • Central Ground Water Authority(CGWA) shall work for advisory and policy-making whereas work related to NOC, inspections and others shall be done by respective state departments.
  • Proper tracking systems or audit activities are required from time to time on the schemes of groundwater management and regulation so that a true picture is available.
  • CGWB should take adequate steps to strengthen its organisation by increasing its manpower and taking advice from experts so that the country can achieve the SDG 6 target by the year 2030.
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