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Northern India Registers Critical Fall in Groundwater Levels

Pre-monsoon water level data 2018 has been compared with the decadal average (2008-17) water level

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The Board usually carries out groundwater monitoring four times in a year in different states. Pixabay

Northern India has registered a critical fall in groundwater levels ranging between 75 and 85 per cent, according to a monitoring report by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).

The newly set up Jal Shakti Ministry furnished the CGWB data to Parliament in response to a query from Haryana BJP MP Ramesh Chander Kaushik.

The Board usually carries out groundwater monitoring four times in a year in different states.

“In order to assess the declining/rising trend in water level on a long-term basis, pre-monsoon water level data 2018 has been compared with the decadal average (2008-17) water level. Analysis of data indicates decline in ground water level in about 52 per cent of the wells being monitored,” said the Parliament statement.

India, Groundwater, Jal
) Northern India has registered a critical fall in groundwater levels ranging between 75 and 85 per cent. Pixabay

Punjab, a leading agrarian state, suffered the highest 84 per cent decline in groundwater levels in the 216 wells monitored followed by Uttar Pradesh, which recorded 83 per cent dip in 563 wells.

Jammu and Kashmir came third place (81 per cent fall in 244 wells). The groundwater crisis is also acute in the national capital and neighbouring states.

Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have recorded a sharp fall in the groundwater levels, ranging from 70 to 80 per cent.

Rajasthan, a semi-arid state, reported 49 per cent dip in the groundwater level. Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh recorded a decline of 53 to 59 per cent.

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The CGWB analysed 14,243 wells across the country. Of this, 6,786 recorded a rise in groundwater levels but 7,412 wells showed the opposite result.

“Ground water levels in various parts of the country are declining because of continuous withdrawal due to reasons such as increased demand of fresh water for various uses, vagaries of rainfall, increased population, industrialization and urbanization,” cited the Jal Shakti Ministry.

The Ministry also cited the example of states which have done well in water management. These include Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

India, Groundwater, Jal
The newly set up Jal Shakti Ministry furnished the CGWB data to Parliament in response to a query from Haryana BJP MP Ramesh Chander Kaushik. Pixabay

The southern states of Kerala, Telangana and Puducherry recorded a decline of 40 to 46 per cent. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which is facing a huge water crisis, saw a 60 per cent tumble.

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Tripura in the northeast saw the lowest decline of 16 per cent dip and Goa 29 per cent. (IANS)

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Developers Can Now Start Building Hindi Skills for Alexa in India

Right now, Alexa can understand some Hinglish commands but these are few and far between

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Alexa, Amazon, Virtual Assistant
Amazon Echo led the Indian smart speakers market with 59 per cent share in 2018 (Representational image). Pixabay

Amazon on Tuesday announced that developers can now start building Alexa skills for customers in India with the new Hindi voice model available in Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).

Developers would get a headstart and submit skills for certification as the company prepare to offer engaging experiences for Alexa users in one of the most spoken languages in the country, the company said in a statement.

Commercial hardware manufacturers who want to develop Alexa Built-in products for Hindi-speaking customers in India can request early access to the invite-only Alexa Voice Service (AVS) developer preview.

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of free, self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for developers to create skills, or capabilities, for Alexa.

Amazon last year launched a new category of skill called “Cleo” that enables customers in India help Alexa learn Hindi and other languages. The idea was to improve Alexa’s language model and help her gradually speak in local languages.

Lawsuit, Amazon, Alexa
The lawsuit alleges Amazon of saving ‘voice prints’ of millions of children by unlawfully recording their conversations around Alexa-enabled smart devices. Pixabay

Apart from Hindi, users can respond to Alexa’s English statements in Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarati and other regional languages.

Alexa is currently available in over 80 countries and speaks more than 14 language variants.

One can sign up for the first webinar on Hindi skill building scheduled on July 24. Developers in India who have their Hindi-language skill certified for publication in India before July 31 would receive exclusive early bird Alexa merchandise.

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Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist for Alexa, told IANS recently that the company is working on infusing regional languages capabilities in Alexa for the Indian market but these are early days.

Right now, Alexa can understand some Hinglish commands but these are few and far between. (IANS)