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Drying Ganga could stall food security and prevent achieving SDGs

Friday - September 14, 2018 12:38 pm , Category : SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
 Drying Ganga could stall food security and prevent achieving SDGs
Drying Ganga could stall food security and prevent achieving SDGs
Kolkata Sep 14 (IANS/Mongabay) Millions of people residing in the lower reaches of the Ganga basin in India may face food shortage in the next three decades if the much revered river continues to lose water due to factors that include unsustainable groundwater extraction a study has claimed.

Researchers associated with the study added that low river flows could also have implications for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
But experts not associated with the study also pointed to the combined blow of surface and groundwater misuse that has beleaguered the Ganga river basin sheltering around 10 per cent of the global population. Agricultural inefficiency is a chink in the chain they say when it comes to sustainable water use.
The modeling study forecasts that in the absence of interventions groundwater contribution to the river s water flow would continue diminishing in the summer for the next 30 years.
The analysis was conducted by Abhijit Mukherjee at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur Soumendra Nath Bhanja (formerly at IIT Kharagpur) and Yoshihide Wada from Austria s IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) on the stretch of the river from Varanasi to the Bay of Bengal.
"The impacts of groundwater depletion on Ganga river flows are very complex. However our study found that there is significant concern that ongoing groundwater pumping over the basin is unsustainable leading to not only lowering groundwater levels but also reduction in river flows during summer time " Wada told Mongabay-India.
This problem is more serious downstream of the Ganga river Wada said.
Mukherjee lead author of the study said: "So far in the last three decades we have seen the groundwater input to the river decline by 50 percent during summer. This decline could go up to 75 per cent compared to the scenario in the 1970s in the summer months."
Although the modeling study doesn t factor in climate change impacts the authors argue that if they were to do so the situation could be worse than predicted.
The Ganga s 2 525 km watercourse is sustained by rainfall in the hinterlands of the Ganga basin Himalayan glacial melt as also groundwater discharge. In summer (non-monsoon months) this groundwater contribution (baseflow) to the river can be 30 percent in some sections and can even swell up to 60 to 70 percent informed Mukherjee.
"The combination of groundwater (around 70 percent) and river water (30 percent) availability actually runs the farming system te of 17.73 per cent from a growth of 18.10 per cent.
However expenses on manufactured products registered a rise of 4.43 per cent from 4.26 per cent.

--IANS rv/in/vm

 

 

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