Uttarakhand has 2.04 billion cubic meter of ground water, just enough for the state’s 1.25-crore population to survive for 500 days, data compiled by the water resources ministry has shown.
However, what should come as a concern for policy-makers as well as people of the state is the fact that the latest figure – from 2011 – is significantly less than the 2009 figure of 2.17 BCM.
The water resources ministry’s data was tabled in Parliament recently.
Experts pointed out that rapid urbanisation and unchecked usage was taking a heavy toll on the state’s ground water resources and called for urgent steps to save nature’s precious gift.
Anil Joshi, recipient of the Padma Shri award and founder of the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation, was of the view that the state must quickly find ways to “recharge” the water level.
“The mushroom growth of apartment buildings is putting big pressure on the ground water levels. Besides, industries are also using ground water without any check. The decision-makers have to think and act seriously to save natural water sources,” Joshi added.
Chief minister Harish Rawat had recently revealed that the government was working on a water policy that will ensure curb on the usage of unchecked ground water.
Officials, however, pointed out that ground water is constantly replenished by natural sources like rains.
They also said that Uttarakhand was in a better position than several other states like Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram where ground water levels are said to be alarmingly low.
Last year the state had received 12% excess rainfall during the June-September period.
However, rainfall has been over 20% deficient this year from June till September 7.
Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, Uttarakhand is considered a tourist haven for its exotic locales and pilgrimages .
However, the state’s fragile ecology has also been severely affected by the rush to build infrastructure for tourists and pilgrims, especially in the Himalayan zones.
Last year’s killer floods, which had left nearly 6000 dead, are attributed as much to human activity in the hills as to nature’s fury.