Increase in pumping groundwater for different industrial and agricultural purposes has brought Ludhiana district in the list of “critically declared area for abstraction of water”. But the authorities, including municipal corporation, Punjab Pollution Control Board, Ludhiana Improvement Trust and Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA), under whom various areas of the district fall, are still sitting on their hands and not taking action those installing borewells or handpumps to retrieve groundwater.
Water table in Ludhiana is depleting at a rate of 1.08 metre every year, thus causing a serious threat to the underground water. A major chunk of this underground water is being used for industry and agricultural purposes in Ludhiana.
The Central Ground Water Authority in 2012 had declared Ludhiana as dark zone for abstraction of underground water and also banned the installation of borewells in the district. Industries, including dyeing and electroplating, among many others, use a large quantity of water that results in depletion of water table.
The municipal corporation was supposed to stop the installation of new borewells and handpumps anywhere in the city after the orders of the central government. But so far, the civic body has failed to wake up. “After the orders of central government last year, only the municipal corporation can install borewells and handpumps in the city. Installation of these by residents themselves without permission is banned and action could be taken against such persons,” said Rahul Tewari, MC commissioner.
Interestingly, MC has failed to take action against even a single such borewell and handpump in Ludhiana, that makes it clear that the civic body is not serious regarding the issue. Borewells or handpumps can be installed only in areas where there is no MC water supply. “Industries should not at all install borewells for commercial purpose at their units,” Tewari said.
Many industrial units at Focal Point have installed borewells that was also resulting in wastage of underground water. “Action against the defaulters could be taken only through a survey or on complaints. But we have so far not received even a single complaint against anyone,” Tewari claimed.
A report by Central Ground Water Board, ministry of water resources, states that significant water table decline had been observed in north-western and south-western parts of Ludhiana district. “The main cause of groundwater depletion is its over-exploitation to meet the increasing demand of various sectors, including agriculture, industry and domestic. This declining water table trend, if not checked, would assume an alarming situation in the near future affecting agricultural production and thus economy,” the report of the board states.
The minimum depth of the groundwater has decreased manifold from 2-10 metres in 1978 to at least 22 metres in 2013. As per official records, there are many areas in the city where the groundwater is not available even till 45 metre of depth. A study on underground water is conducted by the central government after every five years. The results of the latest study conducted are still awaited.