It’s very hard to assess how fast groundwater is being removed for agricultural use and how much is being recharged. This is even more difficult when no centralized records are maintained regarding groundwater usage. No such assessments are available for northwestern India, which is often referred to as the “bread basket” of India as they produce nearly all wheat consumed in India. Over the past several years, the unsustainable growth and agricultural practices combined with climate change have severely depleted the groundwater in the region. Until now no one had any idea how serious the problem was. The latest issue of Nature published a study where some researchers used satellite data to estimate the groundwater depletion rates. They say
During our study period of August 2002 to October 2008, groundwater depletion was equivalent to a net loss of 109 km3 of water, which is double the capacity of India’s largest surface-water reservoir.
Imagine, how this could affect over 114 million people that live in those areas and entire South Asia in general.