An Untold Story of Groundwater Replenishment in India: Impact of Long-Term Policy Interventions

  • Abhijit MukherjeeEmail author
  • Soumendra Nath Bhanja
Part of the Springer Water book series (SPWA)


Over the past decade, the issue of diminishing groundwater resources in India has garnered significant concern worldwide. Indian groundwater abstraction may be ascribed as the “largest groundwater abstraction in human history”. However, our recent studies have identified replenishment of groundwater storage at regional scale in parts of southern and western India. These findings are based on our analyses and numerical modeling by using combination of in situ groundwater level observations from the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India, and observations from NASA’s GRACE satellites. The study suggests that recent paradigm change in the groundwater abstraction and management policies in India for sustainable groundwater utilization might start acting for replenishing the aquifers by increasing storage in western and southern India. Our results have given positive confirmation on the rejuvenation of groundwater resources as an effect of these efforts. In west (Gujarat) and south (Andhra Pradesh) regions of India, groundwater storage had been observed to decrease at rates of −5.81 ± 0.38 km3/year and −0.92 ± 0.12 km3/year between 1996 and 2001–2002, respectively. Consequently, the groundwater storage has been found to increase at rates of 2.04 ± 0.20 km3/year in Gujarat and 0.76 ± 0.08 km3/year in Andhra Pradesh between 2002–2003 and 2014. The groundwater replenishment is probably caused by a combination of government policy changes and the grassroots efforts of local communities, who have undertaken several projects over the last several years in the form of efficient groundwater management and utilization policies, which will probably act for the aquifer replenishment in terms of increasing groundwater storage in future times and optimistically transform India from a “groundwater-scarce” to a “groundwater-sufficient” country.


Groundwater abstraction Aquifer Numerical modeling GRACE Groundwater storage Specific yield 



Thanks are extended to the scientists of Central Groundwater Board for valuable suggestions and also the research scholars of IIT Kharagpur for their support. We would also like to thank Matthew Rodell (NASA GSFC), Yoshihide Wada (IIASA), Dipankar Saha (CGWB) and Amarjit Singh.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Applied Policy Advisory for Hydrogeoscience (APAH) Group, Department of Geology and Geophysics and School of Environmental Science and EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology (IIT)-KharagpurKharagpurIndia
  2. 2.Athabasca River Basin Research Institute (ARBRI)Athabasca UniversityAthabascaCanada

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