Staff Reporter

Industrial units to be asked to ensure percolation equivalent to their drawal

Water resource department can act as a nodal agency, says environmental engineer

BHUBANESWAR: A working group on industry constituted for preparing the State Action Plan on Climate Change has mooted implementation of a system of compensatory water harvesting on the lines of compensatory afforestation.

Viewed as an innovative plan to retain ever-depleting groundwater table, the system initially aimed at making industrial and mining units duty-bound to ensure deep percolation of water equivalent to their groundwater drawl. “The idea was suggested during working group meeting. Everybody could put the water harvesting programmes into practice. But we want big industrial houses to take the lead in compensating groundwater spending,” said N. R. Sahu, a senior environmental engineer with State Pollution Control Board. He is also convenor of the working group.

“Although a detailed operational formula is yet to be worked out, the industries could assess how much water they draw from ground and how much rainwater falling on roofs on their premise is actually going to ground. Based on the statistics, one could easily find out the net extraction of water,” Mr. Sahu said. The volume of excess water being drawn through deep borewell could be compensated by respective industries, he said. “They cannot compensate the groundwater extraction on their own premise. They have to tap water harvesting potential outside. Industrial units should come forward to help those who cannot create capacity of water harvesting at their own cost,” the senior environmental engineer said.

Mining and industrial units could even think of storing runoff water by creating big tank, which would help recharge groundwater table, he said. Since water resource department has all the surveys and expertise pertaining to groundwater and surface water, it could act as the nodal agency. A fund of Rs. 100 crores would be needed to study, prepare framework and implement the compensatory water harvesting system, the working group member said.

As a matter of fact, groundwater table in industrial zones is fast depleting. People are facing unspeakable hardship during the summer. Groundwater in 24 out of 30 districts in the State is depleting. As per a government record, nearly 60 per cent of industries are depending on ground water. In fact nearly, 50 out of 70 sponge irons in Sundargarh are relying on groundwater.

Like forest, which has to be compensated if diverted for other uses, water resource needs to be preserved, experts said.