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Groundwater Use in Bundelkhand

Except in the ravine belts along the Yamuna in the northern extreme of Bundelkhand, and in the Panna-Ajaigarh hill ranges, water is available at fairly accessible depths in most inhabited parts of Bundelkhand.

Data from the Union government's Minor Irrigation Census (2000-01) show that in the majority of the region's villages, groundwater is available at a depth of up to 30 metres.

Groundwater level in villages (2000-2001)

  Percentage of total villages in districts according to groundwater levels
<10 m 10 m-30 m 30 m-70 m >70 m
Jhansi 58 40 2 Neg
Lalitpur 80 20 Neg Neg
Jalaun 50 44 5 2
Hamirpur 16 60 21 3
Mahoba 84 16 Neg 0
Banda 33 50 14 3
Chitrakoot 17 63 19 2
UP Bundelkhand 48 42 8 1
UP 70 25 4 2
Datia 21 70 9 Neg
Chhatarpur 62 37 Neg 0
Tikamgarh 60 40 0 Neg
Panna 84 15 Neg Neg
Damoh 68 23 4 5
Sagar 84 15 Neg Neg
MP Bundelkhand 69 29 2 1
MP 57 40 2 Neg

Source: State-wise abstract of information from village schedule in Minor Irrigation Census 2000-2001. Percentages derived from absolute figures and rounded off to nearest integer. Neg= <1%

However, groundwater is neither a sufficient nor reliable resource, for drinking or irrigation purposes (see Water Availability). A hard rocky layer is found at shallow depths across Bundelkhand. The top band of alluvial or porous soil, which allows percolation of water, is not very deep. Hence, amount of water available for extraction and period through which water is available is much lower than in the Gangetic Plain. The problem is exacerbated in drought years.

Groundwater exploitation in hard strata areas of Bundelkhand requires scientific identification of sandstone and limestone formations, which are good absorbers of water. New techniques would have also to be used to tap water in cracks and fissures of rocks.

There appears to be good potential for use of such techniques in UP Bundelkhand.

District-wise data of groundwater resources in Uttar Pradesh in April 2000, made available by a joint study of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and the Ground Water Department of the state, showed that while 52% of the groundwater resources of the state had been 'developed' (was being used), in UP Bundelkhand, this level of usage was seen only in Lalitpur district (52%), and to a lesser extent in Jhansi (44%).

In  Mahoba district, only 25% of the groundwater resource was developed and in all other districts, the percentage was lower; lowest level of exploitation was in Jalaun (19%).

The situation is quite different in MP Bundelkhand. Data from a study of groundwater resource availability done in MP in 1998, by the Bhopal office of the CGWB, showed that groundwater exploitation had reached 'semicritical' levels of above 70% exploitation in all six blocks of Tikamgarh district, two of the seven blocks of blocks of Chhatarpur district (Laundi and Rajnagar) and one of the three blocks of Datia district (Datia).

Around 70% exploitation was reported in one of the five blocks of Panna (Ajaygarh), two of seven blocks of Damoh district (Pataria and Damoh), and two blocks of Chhatarpur district (Nowgaon and Gaurihar). Around 50% exploitation was reported in one block of Chhatarpur district (Chhatarpur), two of 11 blocks of Sagar district (Sagar and Rehli ) and Seondha block of Datia district.

Even in UP Bundelkhand, unscientific exploitation, with too many borewells dug around the same area, have led to rapidly decreasing groundwater tables in many places. In the summer of 2007, after years of poor rainfall, water tables in some parts of Banda district were at depths of 150 metres and more.

In the entire region, groundwater development is lowest in four of the five blocks of Panna district, where less than 15% of total available resources were used, according to the 1998 CGWB-Bhopal study.

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