An estimated 32 cubic kilometres of groundwater is being extracted annually, of which, 90 percent is used in irrigation and 10 percent for industrial and domestic purposes. The numbers were revealed at a seminar titled "Good Groundwater Management: Justice in Achieving SDG" yesterday at CIRDAP Auditorium, Dhaka. Dr Anwar Zahid, director of groundwater hydrology, Bangladesh Water Development Board, in his keynote presentation, said, "Due to such over-extraction, groundwater is being contaminated with salt and heavy metal. 24 percent of lands are now exposed to extremely elevated arsenic, salinity and groundwater depletion hazards."Again, we have observed that groundwater level in urban areas, particularly Dhaka and Barind Tract, is declining permanently at an alarming rate. This implies that the water level is not being recharged even after the monsoon. With increased extraction, fluctuation of groundwater level has also increased with time," Dr Zahid added. Md Tazul Islam, minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, emphasised minimising usage and extraction of groundwater. "There is no alternative to minimizing groundwater usage. At present, in many districts, people cannot use groundwater anymore and we are being forced to supply them with purified surface water," he said. "To achieve SDGs, 70 percent of our water consumption must come from the surface water sources." He said the government is planning to construct water-recycling plants where used water will be purified and resupplied to communities to reduce pressure on natural water sources. In a previous study, it was revealed that Bangladesh is losing groundwater at an average rate of 8.73 millimetres per year. In 2006, the number of shallow water pumps that extract groundwater directly from the aquifers close to the ground surface was 11,82,525, and within 12 years, in 2019, the number of shallow wells increased up to 16,00,000. Prof Dr Kazi Matin U Ahmed of Dhaka University's geology department, said, "We need a license from the government to extract all types of natural resources except groundwater. As a result, we have been extracting groundwater in an unplanned and unregulated manner." "If we continue to extract groundwater in this way, many parts of the country will not remain liveable due to loss of agriculture, salination and heavy metal contamination," he said.