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10% tubewells going dry in 3 Punjab cities, water unfit for drinking: Reports

As per reports of the Central Ground Water Board, the groundwater level in these cities has declined at an alarming rate of approximate 1m per year in the last three-four years.

punjab Updated: May 19, 2018 22:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab,Amritsar,Ludhiana
As per the report available with municipal corporations of these cities of Punjab, every year, approximately 10% of tubewells are going dry.(HT File/Representative Image)

Not only is groundwater witnessing a sharp decline in Punjab’s Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala cities where drinking water supply is based on groundwater, it is also unfit for consumption.

As per reports of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), the groundwater level in these cities has declined at an alarming rate of approximate 1m per year in the last three-four years. The extraction is 150% more than the net groundwater availability due to which existing tubewells in these cities are unable to yield the required quantum of water, forcing civic agencies to bore new tubewells every year. As per the report available with municipal corporations of these cities, every year, approximately 10% of tubewells in these cities are going dry.

The deterioration in groundwater quality is another major concern in these cities. The CGWB reports indicate that groundwater in shallow aquifers of Ludhiana and Amritsar, closer to industrial units, is contaminated due to presence of heavy metals. The deeper aquifers have also started showing deterioration with hardness, total dissolved solids and alkalinity exceeding the acceptable limits of portable water as per the norms.

The agencies are not only finding it hard to deliver the right quality but also pressure and quantum. The civic agencies blame it to the old and unplanned distribution system, which is prone to leakages.

To check the rapid decline and deterioration of groundwater, the Punjab government had initiated the process of switching to surface water (canal water) based supply and detailed proposals made by the department of local government were prepared for the three major cities of Ludhiana, Amritsar and Patiala. A study report concerning Jalandhar too is in the pipeline.

After the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs accorded technical clearance in April this year, the department of economic affairs (DEA), ministry of finance of the Government of India too has accorded in-principle approval to allow Punjab to arrange funds through the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB), local government minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said on Saturday.

The Union government will now send the proposal to the World Bank for Ludhiana and Amritsar and to ADB for Patiala. The total cost is Rs 3,508 crore. The process of approvals and sanctioning of loan is expected to be completed with 12-14 months, after which the works are expected to start on the ground, he said.

Ludhiana, with a population of over 16 lakh, is proposed to be served through Sidhwan canal, Amritsar with population of 11.37 lakh will be served treated surface water from MBL canal and Patiala (population 4.45 lakh) will get water from Bhakra canal.

The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), which was entrusted with cleaning the Tung Dham nallah in Amritsar, had done sample surveys and its report said that discharge of industrial effluents into the nallah was very high and its technology would be of use only if the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) controls the discharge.

The CEO of the Amritsar Smart City Project too had written to the PPCB to ensure that the industries were discharging treated effluents. “It is surprising how the PPCB said the discharge by industries was treated. Clean drinking water would be our biggest service for people of Punjab,” Sidhu said.

First Published: May 19, 2018 22:07 IST