Thursday, July 25, 2024

Editorial

Surface sinking beneath our feet

Y.S.Rana | June 08, 2024 06:48 PM

CHANDIGARH: The Underground Water Survey Report-2023 is out. It alerted about the alarming depletion of ground water which is the major resource in times of crisis across the country. The Report states that 27 per cent of 6533 blocks across the country underground water level depleted to the dangerous point.

Of these blocks 11 per cent fall in the list of dark zone. According to the report some parts of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Western Uttar Pradesh are over exploited of ground water but in turn due to dry weather there is limited scope of water recharge. Efforts initiated by the Uttar Pradesh government paid dividends. In 2021 in Uttar Pradesh numbers of dark zone block was 105 which is now decrease to 95, reveals the report. The situation is worst in Rajasthan where 203 blocks are dark zones.

The Director of Underground water Rajesh Prajapati said that it was possible because of stoppage of indiscriminate tapping of underground water and steps for recharge. The Model Bill for conservation, protection, regulation and management of groundwater also helped in decreasing number of dark zone blocks. The Bill decentralize water management and give more power to panchayats and gram sabhas to decide the ways and means to use water in judicious and better way. The Bill proposes a fines ranging from Rs 5, 000 to Rs 5 lakh depending on the level of infraction and who the culprits were.

According to the field-based survey of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), due to over exploitation of ground water for irrigation purposes in Punjab and Haryana, ground water level in 82 per cent village of Punjab and 63 per cent of Haryana has recorded decline in ground water level in the recent past. The study also revealed that ground water contributed between 65-74 per cent to the net irrigated area in Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and West Bengal. Punjab and Haryana have exploited ground water resources to 145 per cent and 109 per cent respectively.

Latest study on ground water also shows that in some parts of Chandigarh ground water tables have dropped by as much as 10 meters to 15 meters over a decade and capital of two states is heading to a big water crisis in the coming years. For the last 50 years many green spots have turned into grey patches because of converting the city into a concrete play ground. It stopped the seepage of rain water deep into the ground. Hence, modernization of Chandigarh resulted in annual average fall in ground water table. Even ground water table in Himachal Pradesh has dried up a number of hand pumps installed by the state government. In district Una, Hamirpur and Kangra people are getting water only one hour a day.

Dr Ritesh Arya an international renowned geologist says when large amounts of underground water are extracted from aquifers, the clay between pockets of water gradually collapses, leading to deflation of land underneath like a collapsing matter. According to US Geological Survey, more than 80 per of land subsidence in the world caused due to excessive groundwater extraction. Surface is sinking under feet, wake up otherwise it is too late.

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