The Asian Age

Borewells suck­ing Delhi dry: Survey

Mas­sive fall in city ground­wa­ter level

- SAN­JAY KAW

Delhi is re­port­edly fac­ing the high­est de­cline of ground­wa­ter level among all the met­ros in the coun­try. The data com­piled by the Cen­tral Ground Wa­ter Board has re­vealed that the city’s wa­ter ta­ble — the level be­low which the ground is sat­u­rated with wa­ter — has fallen from 20 feet in 1977 to as much as 214 feet in some ar­eas in the south- east re­gion of the Ridge For­est area. This is pre­cisely a lit­tle less than the height of the Qutab Mi­nar.

With the lo­cal agen­cies mak­ing se­ri­ous ef­forts to tab­u­late the data on all the borewells, the gov­ern­ment was also in the process of ac­quir­ing waste lands, un­cul­ti­vated sur­plus land of Goan Sab­has and new vil­lage lands to in­crease the city’s green cover. The city ad­min­is­tra­tion’s for­est and wildlife depart­ment, which is sup­ported by 19 green­ing agen­cies in­clud­ing civic bod­ies, hos­pi­tals and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, plans to plant five lakh seedlings dur­ing the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year.

A se­nior of­fi­cial said the ECO Task Force ( Army Per­son­nel) are work­ing to­wards restora­tion of ravines in the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary, with a tar­get to plant two lakh seedlings dur­ing the en­su­ing sea­son. Dur­ing the mon­soon sea­son, the depart­ment plans to con­duct mas­sive plan­ta­tion drives in waste land ar­eas like Gu­man­herda, Shas­tri Park, Gari Mandu and STP Premises in Kondli. The gen­eral pub­lic is also be­ing in­volved in the drive by way of pro­vid­ing them free of cost seedlings from se­lect out­lets of Mother Dairy, petrol pumps and CNG sta­tions.

On the ground­wa­ter front, the CGWB data has re­vealed that large parts of South­west Delhi, South Delhi and South­east Delhi were among the worst af­fected ar­eas. Ex­perts are at­tribut­ing the de­cline in the ground­wa­ter level di­rectly to the use of mil­lions of il­le­gal borewells that are suck­ing the city dry.

A re­cent Right to In­for­ma­tion query showed there were 4.65 lakh borewells op­er­at­ing il­le­gally in the na­tional cap­i­tal. The Delhi Jal Board of­fi­cials pri­vately ad­mit­ted th­ese fig­ures were just an es­ti­mate as the ac­tual num­ber of il­le­gal borewells could be much higher. The city ad­min­is­tra­tion’s en­vi­ron­ment depart­ment has al­ready asked Del­hi­ites to dis­close the de­tails of borewells in their re­spec­tive ar­eas. The en­vi­ron­ment depart­ment has said that each and ev­ery borewell has to be regis­tered with the city ad­min­is­tra­tion. A se­nior of­fi­cial said the ad­min­is­tra­tion was plan­ning to get wa­ter me­tres in­stalled at each borewell so that one could keep a tab on the wa­ter which is ex­tracted on a daily ba­sis. The ad­min­is­tra­tion also plans to in­tro­duce wa­ter cess on borewells. Of­fi­cial said it is very dif­fi­cult to de­tect borewells which had been in­stalled inside homes. “One can­not in­spect th­ese houses with­out an of­fi­cial search war­rant.” Sources said the min­istry of en­vi­ron­ment and for­est was more con­cerned with the pos­si­bil­ity of com­mer­cial ex­ploita­tion than mon­i­tor­ing which house­holds have in­stalled th­ese borewells.

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