Delhi Experiencing Drastic Groundwater Level Depletion

by May 10, 2018 0 comments

Delhi Experiencing Drastic Groundwater Level DepletionThe groundwater levels in Delhi have depleted at an alarming rate and, therefore, this summer may be a difficult and long.

The Central Ground Water Board informed the Supreme Court on May 8 that groundwater levels in Delhi are dropping sharply year after year. According to the numbers released by them, groundwater levels in 15 per cent of the Capital have dropped below 40 meters and in the case of Kapashera near the Delhi-Gurgaon border, it has dropped to a truly alarming 79 meters. There are several reasons the Board gave for the precipitous decline. The primary reason is, of course, uncontrolled and illegal extraction by borewells. Despite occasional drives, the rampant and unplanned growth of Delhi, particularly at its southern edge where illegal colonies such as Sangam Vihar have flourished, has led to the crisis. And even here, there is a marked rich-poor divide. Kapashera, where water levels are lowest, is also where several of Delhi’s rich and famous have their farmhouses complete with swimming pools. At the same time, despite promises of action, successive Governments in Delhi have allowed a so-called ‘water mafia’ that operates such borewells to keep drawing water with impunity.

Can the situation be redressed? Yes, it can, with strict action. It is not just Delhi but several Indian cities need to carefully evaluate their water situation. The South African city of Cape Town, ironically surrounded by two oceans, was going to run of of water this year but some strict planning, including rationing water usage to just 50 litres a day among some residents alongside a collective social action by Capetonians have allowed the city to stave off the crisis by a year. It will be difficult to make Delhiites do the same, given the levels of selfishness among most residents and huge economic inequalities. Some immediate action could be taken, which is to seal more borewells, although much like evicted hawkers, borewells also return quickly if follow-up action is not taken. Educating the public at large and publicly shaming water-wasters are other solutions.

Indeed, in Cape Town and Los Angeles, the public shaming of water wasters had the desired impact. Citizens stopped filling swimming pools and watering their lawns. Some environmental groups in Los Angeles even used drones and satellite imagery to identify water wasters. A water crisis for Delhi will be brutal and it will impact all and sundry, rich and poor until action is not taken now. At the same time, the city and central governments have to start working together to ensure that this does not become a recurring situation like Delhi’s winter pollution. Strict norms of water usage and mandating the construction of recharge pits in all new buildings can be a start. At the same time, more thought has to be put in India’s crop patterns that are another cause of water level declines but that is another story for another day.

Writer: The Pioneer

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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