NEW DELHI: The government will form a panel of secretaries of the ministries water resources, environment and rural development to tackle groundwater depletion in the Ganga river basin.
Union minister Uma Bharti made an announcement in this regard on the occasion of World Environment Day today in Uttar Pradesh's Narora where she addressed a public meeting as part of her Ganga inspection campaign.
The total replenishable groundwater in the Ganga basin is 170.99 billion cubic metres (BCM, nearly 40 per cent of the country's total replenishable groundwater resource of 433 BCM. "The committee would be formed soon to tackle the issue of groundwater depletion (in the Ganga basin)," an official statement quoted Bharti as saying.
The Union Minister for Water Resources urged people to plant more trees, particularly ones like Tulsi, Pipal, Neem, Palash and Ashoka for they contribute in recharging groundwater.
She also asked people to refrain from using plastic bags. "The use of plastic material is a major cause of pollution to river Ganga and should be stopped," she added.
Bharti told the gathering she wants to start a public campaign to spread message of conserving water, adopting rain water harvesting system and keeping the ghats along the river clean.
She urged retired senior citizens, students, youngsters and housewives to voluntarily participate in the campaign.
The annual groundwater draft (a reasonable release of discharge) is 245 BCM (as on 31st March 2017). Out of the total 6,607 assessed units (blocks, mandals, districts) across the country, 1,071 are 'over-exploited', 217 are 'critical', 697 units are 'semi-critical' and 4530 are 'safe'. Apart from these, there are 92 assessment units which were found to be completely saline.