A survey done by the state ground water department showed a steep rise in the groundwater levels of the perennially drought-prone districts of Telangana which had reported number of heat stroke related deaths in April-May this year. The average rise in the water table was by 8.42 metres with Medak recording the highest of 15.17 metres rise and Mahbubnagar the lowest of 1.81 metres, the study said.
Official sources attribute this to Mission Kakatiya, the flagship programme of the Telangana government aimed at restoration of tanks and water bodies in more than 25,000 habitations in state. The project involves desilting of tanks that were built during the rule of Kakatiya emperors 800 years ago and also clearing the catchment area of each tank to harvest rain water in an effective manner.
“The ground water department has conducted a survey by selecting a micro-basin in each district wherein Mission Kakatiya is being implemented. And the results were surprising. In all the basins, there was a tremendous increase in the groundwater levels due to desilting the tanks which are now full to their brim,” a senior officials in the irrigation department told HT.
The study conducted between May and September has revealed that the groundwater table has gone up from 12.04 metres to 3.12 metres (+8.92) in Adilabad; 13.68 metres to 4.55 metres (+9.13 metres) in Karimnagar; 10.12 m to 4.62 mt (+5.50 m) in Khammam, 24.31 m to 22.50 m (+1.81 m) in Mahbubnagar; 17.85 metres to 2.68 metres (+15.17 metres) in Nalgonda; 18.57 metres to 8.94 metres (+9.63 metres) in Nalgonda; 20.30 metres to 10.06 metres (+10.24 metres) in Nizamabad; 30.70 metres to 24.41 metres (+6.29 metres) in Ranga Reddy; and 14.19 metres to 5.09 metres (+9.10 metres) in Warangal.
“Never in the past was such a sharp rise in the groundwater table, because there was no mechanism to retain the water received through heavy rains. There was a large scale destruction of tanks in the last several decades under the combine Andhra Pradesh regime. We have taken up the task of restoring over 46,500 tanks across 10 districts of the state at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore, so as to increase their storage capacity to 255 TMC of water over a period of five years,” says state Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao.
As of now, the Telangana government has restored 8,000 tanks at the cost of Rs 1,600 crore in the first phase and restoration of another 9,000 tanks at a cost of Rs 2,083 crore has been taken up this year. “We have strengthened the bunds of the tanks as part of Mission Kakatiya, as a result of which very few tanks got breaches this monsoon, despite heavy rains,” Rao said.