Had the residents and authorities taken rainwater harvesting pits seriously, the depleting groundwater table in Gurgaon would have been a non-issue, hydrologists say.
Recent data tells us the groundwater level is as low as 286 feet in the Gaushala area of Gurgaon. The level is alarmingly low in Sikandarpur too at 270 feet and 198 feet at Sukhrali.
“Instead of cribbing about the erosion, residents must make efforts to harvest rain water. Gurgaon receives an average of 150 mgd (million gallons daily) water every year through rainfall. Even saving 100 mgd out of this can drastically improve the situation. Canal water will act as bonus buffer then,” said district hydrologist, MS Lamba.
According to Gauhar Mahmood, a professor at Delhi-based Jamia Milia Islamia, “Rain water harvesting plans can prevent dipping of the groundwater level by up to 30 percent.”
Mahmood has conducted an extensive research into the water problems of Gurgaon and also prepared a rain water harvesting master plan for the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG). His study shows ground water depletion level in Gurgaon is 311% of its rainfall. Therefore, proper rainwater harvesting can save up to 30% of the water.
While plans and policies are in place, however, lack of implementation is a major drawback with regard to rain water harvesting in Gurgaon. According to the suggestions made by the rain water harvesting master plan in 2010, 265 harvesting structures must be built within the municipal areas of Gurgaon. Out of these, just 89 have been constructed so far.
According to Mahmood, 38% of the municipal area has been covered under the rain water harvesting plan. In the remaining areas of Gurgaon, not even 20% has been covered so far.
While the pace of putting in place a proper rain water harvesting system has been slow, orders regarding making such structures mandatory in all residential and commercial complexes by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) and the town and country planning department remain on paper only.
“The plan is an eye wash as there is lack of proper planning and designing. More than 85% of existing pits are non-functional and poorly maintained,” Mahmood said. Another problem is the quality of ground water. While the water level has already reached a depth of 286 feet in some areas, there is no water available beyond 600 feet in most parts of Gurgaon. And as the water level decreases, its salinity increases.