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JalTara-Meeting it at the ground level: Challenge of depleting groundwater faced by India- An Art of Living initiative


BENGALURU, India, March 4, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — India consumes almost a quarter of the groundwater available around the world. With the increase in population and crop demand, the requirement of water for irrigation has increased. Groundwater alone meets the majority of the water needs in agriculture. Hence, it will not be wrong to say that rural India survives on groundwater.

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The issue of groundwater crisis and its causes 

Continuous groundwater usage doesn’t give it enough time to replenish itself through the natural phenomenon of rain. Most rainwater thus doesn’t seep into the soil and is not stored for further usage by farmers. For this reason, groundwater levels have seen a considerable dip in the past decade. High demand for crops with the increase in population and change in eating habits of the people in India has led to a rise in the extraction of water by farmers.

Drought-hit areas in the country are being affected by waterlogging

Waterlogging and droughts have become recurring phenomena in India. These natural occurrences further damage the soil and worsen the farmers’ situation. Many areas in the country are prone to droughts every year. It makes the ground baked and dry, thus minimizing the rainwater absorption rate by the soil. Whenever it rains in such regions, water has nowhere to escape, and it runs off slopes, causing waterlogging.           

Droughts and waterlogging impact the soil health

The soil eroded due to waterlogging takes away many nutrients and organic matter. The sediments deposited may increase the soil’s nitrogen, phosphorous, silicon, and potassium level. Hence, the soil loses its fertility in waterlogging, as in droughts. Droughts make the soil dry and increase its temperature. The lack of moisture, thus, harms nutrient processing and microbial activities, which play a pivotal role in grain production.

Farmers: The way to a solution for groundwater crisis 

Farmers all over the country are the first to be affected by waterlogging, droughts, or depletion in groundwater levels. They work directly in contact with the same, and their livelihood is at stake regarding the quantity and quality of crop production. When seeking a solution to this nationwide problem of depleting groundwater levels, it is essential to keep the farmers in the loop of every plan. That is only when one can hope to eradicate the problem from its root by replenishing groundwater levels regularly and creating a better situation for agriculture.

JalTara: Fighting against a severe water crisis in the nation 

The Art of Living, under the guidance of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is working towards solving the problem of depleting groundwater levels by acting at the local level through its JalTara project.

In the scheme of things of this far-sighted vision, farmers are being educated about the whole process. Every village needs to have numerous recharge structures at the lowest level of each field to store rainwater. It has been decided to employ two Jal Sevaks per three villages so that the recharge structure-digging and rock-filling process runs smoothly and on time just before the rains. The procedure lasts about six months and includes sevak training, farmer mobilization, digging, and rock filling. The recharge structures are filled with pebbles or rocks to facilitate the absorption of rainwater, with one recharge structure excavated per acre of land. The estimated groundwater impact per recharge structure is around 6.06 lakh litres.

Till now, 50 villages have 20,000 JalTara recharge structures. The efforts in this direction have amounted to approximately 1212 crore litres of water being added, with a groundwater level rise of 14 feet. Simple enough to understand for anyone, the process of recharge structure digging being done nationwide is proving mighty effective and has shown positive results. Tree plantation is also part of the project, and 40,000 trees have been planted so far. Tree plantation has helped improve the soil’s health by enabling the rain water bypass the top soil & preventing erosion. The monitoring of the water levels is done through the wells present in the villages. The nationwide reach of the project and its direct connectivity with farmers makes its simple yet effective philosophy work.

About The Art of Living – Social Projects

The Art of Living, a non-profit, educational and humanitarian organization founded in 1981 by the world-renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader – Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, working towards solving India’s impending water crisis and eradicating water poverty. 

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Shamika Gandhi


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