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Exodus 2017?

History is replete with examples of civilisations and cities that have packed up for want of water. Millennium City could also go their way, for its groundwater reserves are likely to last just 8 more years. Sanjeev K Ahuja reports.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2009 01:03 IST
Sanjeev K Ahuja

Twenty five years have passed since urbanisation by private realty companies took off in Gurgaon but the Haryana Government has failed to provide potable water to many townships.

As a result, residents are forced to extract groundwater. About 60-70 per cent of the population of New Gurgaon lives on ground water. Suncity, Aardee City and a portion of DLF City (Phase III) are yet to get canal water supply.

The more worrisome aspect of this crisis is that, due to over exploitation of groundwater, the possibility of an earthquake striking Gurgaon has gone up.

Going down by about two meters (six feet) a year since 2006, the groundwater in Gurgaon could run out by 2017 and could create ‘Vado Zone’ underneath, scientists of Central Groundwater Agency have warned.

Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) has the capacity to deliver water from its treatment plants for just 8-9 lakh people when the city’s population has already touched the alarming figure of 25 lakh.

However, HUDA Administrator G Anupama said that the population of Gurgaon was not more than 10-11 lakh. “Our water supply is good enough for nine lakh population while the rest have their own arrangement of bore wells.”

Govind Rawat, a resident of DLF City for the last 20 years, has now started buying water cans to meet his family’s drinking water needs. “The water supply situation was never good in DLF City but it has worsened now. We get water supply for just 40 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening, but it does not meet our requirement,” said Rawat, an architect.

Abhey Punia, President of Suncity RWA, said although the HUDA water channels were connected to this township in 2003, the residents are yet to get the supply.

“We are a township of 2500 houses on Golf Course Road and pay Rs 25,000 per month as connectivity charges to HUDA but hardly get water from them. The entire township is dependent on the groundwater we draw from bore wells.”

More than 70 per cent of the population in plotted areas and almost 100 per cent population in multi-storeyed apartments in New Gurgaon colonies such as DLF City, Sushant Lok, Palam Vihar and South City bank on groundwater. Colonisers accuse the state government of sitting on hundreds of crores of rupees it collected from them as the external development charges (EDC) that are meant for providing master infrastructure, including water supply sources like canals.

Officials of Gurgaon’s biggest developer, DLF, claim that water extraction from ground was their compulsion, as the Haryana Government had failed to provide them the promised quantum of canal water.

“We are getting just 50 per cent of our requirement from the water channels laid by HUDA from its water treatment plant. Government has failed to keep its promise We do not want to extract water but are forced to do so, as we are committed to providing our residents water,” said Shalini Wadhawa, the spokesperson for DLF Group.

"The developers who are engaged in high paced construction activity are the major culprits,” said a scientist with Central Ground Water Authority.

Declared a Dark Zone by the CGWA in 2000, drilling was banned in Gurgaon till about December 2008 but it has now been allowed.

The state wing of CGWA and the hydrology department of Haryana also have blamed the developers for indiscriminate extraction of groundwater in Gurgaon. In response to an inquiry marked by the Gurgaon district magistrate Rakesh Gupta, the hydrologys department in its reply had clearly accused the developers for plummeting water table in Gurgaon. Without giving any quantum of water being extracted by the developers in New Gurgaon, the scientists said that the developers were extracting 311 per cent higher water from underground than the required level.

SR Sehrawat, the district hydrologist at Gurgaon Water Cell, admitted that groundwater had been going down in Gurgaon from 1.5-2 meters at various places but blamed government agencies for not doing enough to maintain its level.