Social activist Anna Hazare’s village Ralegan Siddhi, which has been named as a model for its novel experiments in water conservation and use of non-conventional energy, has banned new borewells for the next five years in view of serious depletion in the groundwater table and the current water scarcity.
The decision was taken unanimously during the gram sabha or a meeting in Ralegan Siddhi, in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, on Sunday night. The proposal in this connection was moved by Hazare, who is considered as mobiliser behind the transformation of the village.
The meeting was also attended by government officials.
The gram sabha not only decided to ban new borewells but also resolved to charge a fine of Rs 2 lakh from anyone who violates the decision. The amount of fine would, however, be Rs 25,000 for a marginal farmer.
Hazare pointed out that uncontrolled borewells all over the state, which is reeling under a severe water crisis, has resulted in the current water scarcity. He has also written a letter to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, demanding an immediate ban on digging new borewells.
The decision will come into effect immediately and villagers and government officials will undertake a special drive to fill up recently dug borewells in the village. Water from those that are already in use will be strictly used for drinking purpose. This work is expected to be completed within a week.
Hazare told the gathering that it would take minimum five years to experience the visible impact of the decision.
A survey shows that the groundwater table all over the state, where at least 11,000 villages are facing severe water scarcity, has gone down by an average by two to three metres.
Depletion in ground water table has also been noticed in more than 1100 villages that received normal rainfall in the past few years. In many regions of the state, water cannot be found even after digging up to more than 300 feet. Five years back, water could be found after digging up average 150- to 200 feet.
The dire situation over potable water in Maharastra has also sparked a raging debate over the suitability of playing IPL matches in the state, besides a PIL filed in the Bombay high court challenging the use of large quantity of water for maintaining pitches despite the grave water crisis.