The recent rainfall in the region has rejuvenated water harvesting structures located at different places in the Aravallis of south Haryana. The structures have been constructed by the forest department to recharge the groundwater table and the plan is to store around 1 million gallon of water in them.
Experts say that Aravallis have the potential to absorb 1/3rd of the rainfall that it receives every year. The runoff of the rainwater from the hills is 10-12% and so the area acts as a groundwater recharge zone for the neighbouring areas.
To absorb the rainwater that flows through the Aravallis and minimise the loss due to evaporation, rainwater structures are built for storing water flowing from sloped landscapes.
“We have built four such structures, two in Mewat and two in Gurgaon. As 60% of the water in Mewat is not fit for drinking, we are trying to build these water storage units which will resolve the water problem in Mewat as well as recharge the groundwater level in the area,” said MD Sihna, conservator of forest, Gurgaon.
He said after the recent showers, water has collected in these structures and can be used for several purposes.
Forest officials said the four structures — surface ponds—have been dug up in Gurgaon’s Manesar and Ghamdoz village and at Nuh and Ferozepur Jhirka in Mewat. These units are storing rainwater, which will also help improve vegetation in the area.
The initiative was taken by the forest department after the central ground water authority (CGWA) 2013 report stated that Haryana comes under the area where groundwater is being depleted at a very high rate. In the report, it was suggested that around 300 water recharge structures should be constructed with an average cost of `60 lakh to rejuvenate the area.
“If we want south Haryana not to become another Latur, which is facing huge water crisis, we need to work more on water recharge structures. So we have built these structures that will be linked to a lake where the rainwater will be collected,” Sinha said.
According to the CGWA report, Gurgaon is one of the 162 areas notified across the country for the development of groundwater recharge facilities. The district was notified as an over-exploited zone in 2008.
The groundwater table in Gurgaon has depleted at an alarming rate of 14.16 metres between 2005 and 2014.
Chetan Agarwal, environment analyst, said, “The Aravallis have high secondary porosity and if 33.3% of average annual rainfall of 600 mm is absorbed for groundwater recharge, we can have a total of 20 lakh litres per hectare per year. And if we calculate its value at the rate of 10 paise per litre, it will be Rs 2 lakh per year. Therefore, by simple addition, the water will be worth Rs 40 lakh in 20 years.
As the idea is to improve the groundwater table and improve the texture of the soil by retaining the silt in the catchment area, officials of the forest department said there are several areas in the Aravalli region that need to be protected.
“Several water storage structure need to be created around the Aravalli hills to protect the region from desertification,” said Vasvi Taygi, district forest officer.