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Indian groundwater levels drop

Human intervention in the last decade has impacted on groundwater levels in northern India, US research has revealed

Severe water shortages and reduced farm production could prove massive problems for the region’s 114 million residents. Water levels have been decreasing at a rate of 1.6 inches a year, a net loss of 109 cubic kilometres, twice the size of India’s largest surface reservoir, Upper Waingang.

Satellites and land-surface models were used by scientists from Nasa and the University of California (UCI) in studying the changes in Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana from 2002 to 2008.

The Nature Journal, which published the report, blamed a human influence for the changes, claiming no decline in annual rainfall during the six years clearly pointed the finger.

Dr Matt Rodell, who led the study, from Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre said people were removing water faster than it could be naturally replenished.

He said: “If measures are not soon taken to ensure sustainable groundwater usage, consequences for the 114 million residents of the region may include a collapse of agricultural output, severe shortages of potable water, conflict and suffering.”

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