Manu Bhatnagar, principal director, Natural Heritage Division, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) spoke to HT’s Aakriti Vasudeva on the groundwater issue:
What are the policy level measures that can be taken to recharge groundwater reserves?
We need an aquifer management strategy. This does not mean only recharge of groundwater but substituting its use with recycled water. Another measure, which we have recommended in our draft water policy for Delhi, is water-metering or measuring water use. Currently, our metering is broad-based but we need to go down to the micro level, which countries such as Israel have done. If we can measure the intake and discharge of each home, each user, problems like illegal connections can be checked.
What can citizens and institutions do to remedy the situation?
Rainwater harvesting systems at institution-level, colony-level and even individual residence level can help recharge groundwater significantly over a period of time. Citizens and institutions should reduce groundwater usage and substitute it with recycled water. Also using water-efficient toilets, low-flow taps, low-flow showers can help reduce consumption.
What laws currently exist for regulation of groundwater?
A groundwater bill was rejected by the Delhi assembly a few years ago. So there is some political resistance. Currently, regulation of groundwater is not being done adequately.
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