Groundwater depleting fast, Ghaziabad stares at severe crisis in 5-6 years
Arihant Harmony, a small, 150-flat high-rise in Indirapuram, has to go for yearly boring of its tubewells in order to keep its water supply going.
According to the apartment owners’ association, each year, they have to go 20 feet deeper to get water -- a grim reminder of the rapidly falling groundwater level in Ghaziabad city that has forced the UP groundwater department to assess the water table in 28 localities.
“Earlier in 2010-11, we found water at 80 feet. This year, we went down to 250 feet. The water is used for bathing, washing, etc.The rest is treated at the RO plant for drinking purposes. Trans-Hindon areas have a very high rate of total dissolved solids,” said Alok Kumar, a resident of Arihant Harmony.
The situation, according to groundwater department officials, has reached an alarming level and in another 5-6 years, city areas will experience a “heavy shortage”.
According to the department’s latest groundwater report, the 28 localities being assessed witnessed a decline from 20.31 metres below ground level (mbgl) in 2013 (post-monsoon) to 26.97 mbgl (post-monsoon) in 2018.
“With this rate, we can say that in the coming 5 to 6 years, city areas will witness a heavy shortage of groundwater resources. As an estimate, we have already exhausted the water available in the first aquifer while we are drawing from the lower level of the second aquifer or from the upper layers of the third aquifer. To make it simple, we have exhausted our savings and making use of the contingency funds,” said Rahul Sharma, in-charge of UP groundwater department (Noida region).
“It is not that groundwater is not found at a shallow depth. But such shallow water is generally contaminated, may be due to leaching of industrial waste, sewerage or heavy metals. So it is not fit for drinking purposes,” he added.
According to data from the department, the worst-affected localities in the list of 28 colonies include Vaishali, Sahibabad, Arthala, Pratap Vihar, Vijay Nagar and Prahladgarhi (Vasundhara).
The UP government’s yet to-be-released report on ‘dynamic groundwater resources assessment, 2017’, Ghaziabad district features among the list of at least eight districts where groundwater extraction is above 100% vis a vis the total annual groundwater recharge.
Districts with more than 100% groundwater extraction are Agra (107.50%), Amroha (104.50%), Firozabad (111.39), Gautam Budh Nagar (109.66%), Ghaziabad (128.36%), Hapur (107.34%), Saharanpur (119.9%) and Shamli (109.265).
“The situation will worsen further as heavy concretisation is taking place along roadsides and even in residential areas because of which rainwater is not seeping into the ground. Further, non-functional rainwater harvesting units in buildings are a major cause of worry. Illegal boring for sale of groundwater is prevalent in many areas. Residents in most localities cannot draw water without the help of submersible/motor pumps,” said Akash Vashishtha, a city-based environmentalist.