The Asian Age
Borewells sucking Delhi dry: Survey
Massive fall in city groundwater level
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.