B Venkateswara Rao , Speaker at Climate Change 2023
Water Technology Centre, PJTS Agricultural University, Hyderabad, India
Title : Raising of Groundwater Levels is the Key for the Rejuvenation of Rivers


There has been a tremendous utilization of groundwater resources in the last three to four decades. Globally, groundwater supplies half of drinking water and nearly 70% of irrigation water. Two thirds of worlds groundwater is abstracted in Asia alone. India is the highest user of groundwater in the world. Higher abstraction of groundwater has brought down the water tables in peninsular India of hard rock regions so deep that, rivers are not receiving any contribution from the aquifers during the lean period. The research indicates that the deeper the groundwater table, the more the recharge of the rainfall water to the ground producing little or no runoff from the watersheds leading to reduced inflows to the reservoirs. With the increased interventions of the up streams coupled with drastic reduction in the base flows, rivers are drying up. To reverse the situation the only way forward is to increase the water use efficiency in the irrigation by implementing micro irrigation systems.
The strategy should be, adopting the water and soil conservation technologies by first utilizing the soil water optimally, then we can go for surface water irrigation through smaller scale to larger scale structures including the farm ponds, irrigation tanks medium and large-scale dams in that order. Groundwater irrigation option should be exercised as a last resort. Various groundwater modeling studies in the Deccan Plateau of India suggest that groundwater utilization for the irrigation purposes must be reduced to the half of the present usage. This can be done only through the adoption of sprinkler and drip irrigation methods. For this purpose, change of cropping pattern from the present water intensive crops to less water intensive crops depending on the water availability is necessary.
For all these activities more investments are to be made by the farmers in the agricultural farm sector, which can happen only when the farmer’s income is doubled to his investments. Empowering of farmers cannot happen unless there is a proper support price for their agricultural produce and the society should spend more to get the farm produce. Only with the extra money in the farmer’s hand, it is possible to invest in water saving technologies and help bringing groundwater table to original level (pre - 1980’s) leading to rejuvenation of the rivers


Prof. B. Venkateswara Rao did is Ph.D. in water resources at Jawaharlal Technological University Hyderabad (JNTUH) and masters in Geophysics at Andhra University Visakhapatnam India. Initially he worked in the field organizations exploring the ground water. later joined as faculty of water resources at JNTUH and rose to the rank of professor and Director at the Institute of Science and Technology, JNTUH. His areas of research include ground water exploration using geophysical methods, Interaction between ground water and surface water, ground water quality and water resources. He published nearly 200 scientific papers and received several National and international awards.