S. Vishwanath says rooftop rainwater can be led into defunct borewells after making sure that the rooftop is clean and filtration is in place

It mostly takes a tragedy for us to act as a society. It is possible that India has about 30 million borewells, the world’s largest number. The drilling of borewells is a flourishing industry where greater and greater depths are recorded but more significantly from a safety and security point of you the diameter of drilling is increasing. From once what was an innocuous 4 inches of diameter, boreholes now are typically 4.5, 6.5 and even 10 inches in diameter.

With a complex hard rock structure in the Deccan Plateau and a depleting water table many borewells fail to strike water. Some go defunct when the water is extracted and the level falls below the borewells. These borewells have to be treated with great care else they can become the spots for accidents. Children falling into them is a serious cause for concern and action.

Recharge

No defunct borewell should be left unmarked. A borewell which yielded water and is now dry can become a great source for recharging the aquifer. A clean and sufficient catchment for run-off is a must. The water is then lead to the borewell around which 3 feet to 5 feet diameter recharge well is dug. The well is lined with concrete rings and can be filled with filter materials or even left without it. Holes are then drilled in the casing of the borewell and wrapped with a mesh to prevent grit from falling inside. Rainwater and storm-water is directed to the recharge well, filtered and allowed to flow into the casing to recharge the groundwater.

Rooftop rainwater can also be led into these defunct borewells, again after making sure that the rooftop is clean and filtration is done. Care should be ensured that no polluted water gets in.

Care should also be taken to ensure that the electric connections are dis-connected and also that the cover on the recharge well is solid, heavy and not likely to cave in.

Similarly, in the case of a failed borewell the tendency is to recover and salvage the casing pipe inserted into the drilled hole. At this instance it should be mandatory to fill up the hole with earth so that there is no chance of an accident.

Responsibility

Responsibility is jointly that of the owner of the land where the borewell is being drilled and that of the drilling operator. A code of procedure should be followed to ensure safety at all times. Borewells are the lifeline of India, providing water for irrigation, industries and domestic use. Making safety a top priority in the drilling and managing of live and dead borewells is a prime necessity of the times. Developing safety protocols and ensuring that they are applied is a step towards water wisdom.