Chandigarh’s groundwater extraction at semi-critical level: Centre’s report
Even with its minimal area under cultivation, Chandigarh’s groundwater level exploitation is at “semi-critical” level.
As per the “Dynamic Ground Water Resources of India, 2020” report, recently released by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), the union territory of Chandigarh has been categorised under “semi-critical” with its groundwater extraction at 80.6%.
The average for the country is 61.6%.
While less than 70% groundwater extraction is considered “safe”, between 70% and 90% is classified as “semi-critical”.
When between 90% and 100%, it is termed “critical”, and “over exploited” when above 100%.
Chandigarh has been bracketed alongside Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry, where the stage of groundwater extraction is between 60% and 100%.
In comparison, extraction in mega urban Delhi, and agriculture- intensive states Haryana and Punjab is more than 100%, which implies that their annual groundwater consumption is more than the extractable groundwater resources.
75% groundwater used domestically
Notably, the cultivated land in Chandigarh is only 11 square km out of the total area of 114 square km, which utilises around 20% of the city’s groundwater.
More than 75% is used for domestic needs and the rest for other purposes, including industrial.
The civic body supplies 107 MGD (million gallons per day) of water to the city. A major part of this requirement is met by canal water. As per the sharing pattern with Punjab and Haryana, the city gets 87 MGD canal water. But the remaining 20MGD is supplied through 200 tube wells operated by MC.
In most city areas, the groundwater occurs below 20 to 30 metres, while in Manimajra, it is down to about 80 metres.
City’s total annual groundwater recharge has been assessed at 0.063bcm (billion cubic metre) and annual extractable groundwater as 0.057 bcm. In comparison to the 2017 assessment, total annual recharge has increased from 0.042 to 0.063bcm. The current groundwater extraction has increased from 0.03 to 0.046bcm.
“The city has one of the highest per capita consumption of water in the country. While the country’s consumption average is 135 lpcd (litres per capita per day), it stands at 245 lpcd in the city,” said an MC official.
Stricter NOC conditions for tube wells
In its meeting held on Saturday, the MC General House laid down rules for regulation and control of groundwater extraction.
The rules, that are in line with of the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti, include stricter provisions to avail a no-objection certificate (NOC) for installing a tube well.
Before applying for the NOC, users will have to install digital water flow meters, and rooftop rain water harvesting and recharge systems in the project area. Also, they will have to pay for groundwater abstraction and restoration charges based on quantum of groundwater use.
Construction of observation wells for groundwater level monitoring will be mandatory. If the existing wells become defunct due to mechanical failure, the user can construct a replacement well after intimating MC.
User charges will be based on consumption or lump sum, whichever is higher. These steps are expected to help conserve the city’s groundwater.
During a debate on the issue, MC commissioner Anindita Mitra said, “MC will soon phase out tube wells under it with the implementation of the 24X7 water supply project. It will start with Manimajra where the project implementation has started. In other parts, the tube well closure will proceed along with city-wide 24z7 water supply project.”
Over the last few years, the corporation has closed down around 50 tube wells with increase in the canal water supply to the city.