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india Updated: Aug 05, 2006 23:59 IST

The groundwater level in Uttar Pradesh is depleting fast. If our planners do not act soon, the State will turn into a wasteland .

IN UP, the problem of water shortage and drying up of taps is getting sharper with each passing year. If warnings of experts are not taken seriously, the day is not far off when groundwater will start drying up in many districts of the State.

A fairly large area under 50 development blocks, spread over different districts, has shown a noticeable decline in the groundwater level during the last two decades, mainly due to over-exploitation of water resources.

There many blocks and cities like Lucknow, Kanpur and Agra, where the groundwater level has gone down by several meters during the last one decade. As many as 37 Blocks have come under the overexploited category and 13 under the critical category.

The statistics prepared by the UP Groundwater Department show that in eight Blocks, classified as most critical, groundwater is likely to dry up between 2019 and 2051. These blocks include Shamsabad (Agra), Sadabad (Hathras), Lalganj (Rae Bareli), Wazirganj (Budaun) Islamnagar (Badayun), Baroli Ahir (Agra) and Ambiyapur (Badayun). Apparently, the situation is the worst in the Badayun district. Of the eight critical Blocks, three falls in this district.

The groundwater table is fast declining in the Barauli Ahir Block in Agra district and Baghpat’s Binauli Block. The water level in these two blocks is falling at the rate of 70 cm every year. Ironically, among the cities the situation is worst in the State Capital, which is the nucleus of policy making. 

The groundwater level in Lucknow is declining by 56 cm every year followed by Kanpur (45 cm), Agra (40 cm), Aligarh (40 cm), Mathura (36 cm), Varanasi (23 cm) and Ghaziabad (22 cm).

As many as 456 Blocks spread over 69 districts have registered a ‘nose dive’ in the water level by 1 cm to 70 cm during the last 15 years.

The growing problem has caught the attention of the authorities and they have framed policies to get over the problem. But with a poor delivery system in place, the policies are hardly implemented. The lack of fund also comes in the way of achieving the desired results.

Secretary, Minor Irrigation and Ground Water, Arun Arya said that out of the 820 Blocks, 141 Blocks in 36 districts have been identified for implementing water conservation measures and water recharge programmes during the next 10 years.

“Execution of these programmes will, however, require a whopping Rs 4,000 crore,” he pointed out, adding “Efforts are being made to mop up the required funds.”  

But the question is: are the policy makers serious enough to find a solution to the problem? If the scene at a seminar organised by the State Groundwater Department is anything to go by, one can safely conclude that people’s representatives do not seem to be concerned with the people’s problems. 

Alarmed over the situation, the government had a few days back organised a seminar to discuss the problem of sinking groundwater table and chalk out a strategy to tackle the same. As many as 100 MLAs representing various areas facing water scourge had been invited to the seminar so that they could understand the enormity of the problem and send proposals under the District Plan to implement water conservation and water recharge programme.

But to the shock of everyone, only one of the 100 invited MLAs participated in the seminar. The vacant chairs and tables reserved for the MLAs in the Housing Board’s conference hall spoke eloquently about the priorities the people’s representatives had.

The people of Jaunpur’s Kerakat Assembly constituency were fortunate. BJP MLA Sumaru Ram, who represents Kerakat, highlighted the problem related to groundwater at the seminar and also made important suggestions. The official present there heard him attentively.

But if only a miniscule minority of our MLAs show concern for the declining groundwater level, then we should prepare for dry days ahead.