A large pond on Ranchi’s east jail road and a landmark of the neighbourhood until a few years back, has vanished due to mushrooming constructions in the area.
It is not the only city water body that has dried up as more than 60 ponds and smaller water bodies have vanished in the last four decades due to unplanned and haphazard constructions, said officials and environmentalists.
Ranchi city that used to have more than 100 ponds and smaller water bodies in the 1970s and only 42 ponds remain, said Ranchi Municipal Corporation officials.
Shrinking natural water bodies have lowered groundwater level and as a result people suffer during summer, said Nitish Priyadarshi, a city-based environmentalist.
In 1946, JB Auden, a British geologist who visited Ranchi to explore for underground aquifers, found that ground water level in Ranchi was not reliable due to the presence of Archaean rocks–the oldest rock formations
“Auden pointed out that the use of tube wells and wells would dry up in summer and suggested to explore the use of surface water,” he said.
An to meet the increasing demand for surface water, three dams–the Dhurwa Dam in 1962, Kanke Dam in 1954 and Getalsud Dam in 1971– were built in and around the city to cater to a population of 4-5 lakh and in 2016 a revised master plan for the city was drawn up, Priyadarshi said
A recent Ground Water Directorate survey states that Ranchi’s water table has declined by 8.94m between 2009 and 2014 due to overexploitation of ground water.
No new surface water sources have been identified since 2011 to meet the increasing demand of city residents.
The demand will increase manifold in future and if ponds are not revived and more surface water sources are identified, Priyadarshi said.
“Unplanned and haphazard growth have destroyed major water bodies of the city. Ponds, other smaller water bodies are natural recharge pits and they help the rain water in permeating the ground,” he said.
The RMC has identified 42 water bodies across the city, said Ranchi deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijayvargiya.
“Detailed project reports are being prepared to revive the water bodies,” he said.
Following acute water crisis last summer, the RMC in May, made installing of rainwater harvesting system mandatory for all city buildings. Until now only 150 people have installed the system.
Later, the rule was revised and installing rainwater harvesting system was mandatory for buildings that have a height of 300 m or more.
“Residents have been asked o install rainwater harvesting system by March 31, 2017,” said Naresh Sinha, RMC public relation officer.
“House owners will have to pay 1.5 times more holding tax from April 1, 2017 if they fail to install rainwater harvesting systems by March 31, 2017.”