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System to monitor groundwater

Guwahati, Feb. 13: The Assam government will monitor groundwater data 24x7 realtime for sustainable use of water resources, under the World Bank-aided Assam Agricultural Competitiveness Project, due to end next year.

The move seeks to prevent a Punjab-like situation where groundwater levels fell because of extensive exploitation.

The automated telemetry-based groundwater monitoring for Assam system will be in place by May and will facilitate automatic measuring of groundwater data.

It will involve acquisition, processing, validation, storage and dissemination of data relating to groundwater and recording data in real time.

The system encompasses construction of 216 groundwater observation wells in the state and installation of digital automatic water-level recorders.

In the next phase, quality sensors will be added to the observation wells at places where quality of water is an issue and the digital recorders will be coupled with quality sensors.

“Agricultural production has increased in Assam. Hence, the demand for water has gone up and there is a need to use it optimally. A few states have done groundwater monitoring but in Assam, the entire state is being covered and state-of-the-art technology is being used,” Manivannan Pathy, a senior agricultural specialist with the World Bank, told reporters yesterday.

The steering committee of the Planning Commission on water resources and sanitation for the Twelfth Plan had said the country is hurtling towards a serious groundwater overuse crisis.

A state government official said the data is necessary for efficient management of water resources and can identify the areas prone to lowering of the water table. Over 12 years, the state has installed over three lakh shallow tubewells.

The data will be also used to maintain the density of shallow tubewells within the permissible limits.

The bank had asked Tezpur-based North Eastern Regional Institute of Water and Land Management in 2011 to assess the groundwater scenario in the state and update its earlier report. The updated report indicated that in three districts of the state — Bongaigaon, Dhubri and Kamrup (rural) — the groundwater scenario is either critical or semi-critical.

The report had stated that even though the state is rich in groundwater resources, there are locations that show a decline in water level and quality issues.

The system will enable the department of agriculture and other related agencies to take a more strategic view groundwater-based irrigation programmes, take up schemes on water recharge structures and also take up measures to save water through micro/-drip/sprinkler/lift irrigation schemes.

Assam had already enacted the Assam Ground Water Control and Regulation Act in 2011.