Y.S. RANA, CHANDIGARH—Overall scenario is highly critical in a number of states and groundwater reserves dwindle further in Himachal Pradesh to critical level amid rampant extraction. The situation is ‘critical’ in industrialization areas across the state. In the state the proportion of water drawn out to annual recharge is below 70 per cent compared to more than 100 per cent in Punjab, Haryana, according to the latest report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).
According to the latest report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), about 72 per cent wells (compared to 94 per cent wells analysed in 2013) show rise in water level and fall in 28 per cent of the wells in the state. The depth to water level in the state varies from 0.45 m below ground level (bgl) in district Mandi to 29.62m in district Sirmour.
About 57 per cent of the wells show water level of less than 5m bgl. Out of these almost 17 per cent of the wells are showing water level in the
range of 0-2 m bgl, another 40 per cent of the wells show water level in the range of 2-5 m bgl, About 19 per cent of the wells are showing water level in the range of 5-10 m bgl while 18 per cent of the wells are showing water level in the range of 10-20 m bgl. Deep water levels of more than 20 m are observed in only 7 per cent wells.
Analysis also shows that in the state maximum rise in water level has been recorded as 5.98m and maximum fall in water level has been recorded as 6.80m. Water level data of January 2014 compared to
Pre Monsoon 2013 shows that there is rise in water level in entire state. About 89 per cent of the wells analysed shows rise in the water level covering the whole state and only one per cent wells shows no change in water level during the period.
Of the 6607 units assessed for groundwater resources by the CGWB, 1071 units across the country have been categorized as ‘over-exploited.’ Besides 217 units were classified as “critical” as the status of groundwater extraction which was more than 90 per cent.
The report also warns that the over-exploited areas are concentrated in north-western, western and peninsular India. In Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and western Uttar Pradesh there was rampant extraction of ground water. The analysis also puts Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu on alert too as groundwater extraction in these areas is over 70 per cent and are on the threshold of ‘critical.’
The analysis is a matter of concern and the situation needs an urgent overhaul of groundwater policy as despite the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, groundwater is fast depleting in several new areas.
At present, CGWB has a net work of 20,698 groundwater observation wells across the country, out of which 14,674 observation wells are dugwells and 6024 are piezometers.
Agriculture has been the biggest consumer of groundwater accounting for 91 per cent in states like Punjab and Haryana but in Himachal Pradesh domestic and industrial uses account for major part of groundwater. Depleting water table in the state is pushing it into troubled water.