The water table in Gurgaon has been depleting for in the last few decades, but residents say the district administration has not been able to promote rainwater harvesting or crack down on illegal extraction of groundwater. They even allege that there is an active water mafia in Gurgaon.
World Water Day is annually held on March 22 and as per the United Nations, it is “a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.” The theme for this year is ‘wastewater’.
According to the district hydrology department, the average groundwater depletion in Gurgaon was 0.75 metres a year up to 2000, but since then it has gone up to 1.5 to 2 metres.
BS Lamba, district hydrologist, Gurgaon, said, “The average water level in Gurgaon’s four blocks, namely Gurgaon, Sohna, Farukhnagar and Pataudi, is 27 metres. Among the four, the Gurgaon block is the most sensitive and we want to create awareness among residents about recharging the water table.”
“We collected samples from 61 pits in the four blocks and observed an average decline of 1.5 to 2 metres. The depletion in urban areas is much higher,” said Lamba. He added that enforcement agencies are trying to crack down on illegal extraction but residents’ participation in recharging the water table at the micro level is also urgently required.
“We have sealed several borewells, seized tankers and lodged over 50 FIRs in the past one year after complaints by residents of groundwater being sold for construction and other purposes by the water mafia,” he said, adding that permission for borewells and extraction of groundwater is banned in Gurgaon by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).
However, RS Rathee, president, Gurgaon Citizens’ Council, said, “The water mafia is active in Gurgaon. Besides controlling them, we want the administration to check the rainwater harvesting systems in the city. They are mandatory for every residential and commercial unit, but most of them are dysfunctional.”
In 2012, former deputy commissioner, PC Meena, had constituted 20 teams of officials from all government departments to check on illegal groundwater extraction. However, it still continues in the city.
According to experts, the average water table depth is much more alarming than what the administration projects.
“In some places in Gurgaon, the water table has fallen to an alarming 280 to 300 feet. However, the administration is doing the least to stop it,” said professor Gauhar Mehmood, head of department, civil engineering, in New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia.