Groundwater table dips across Delhi

It’s alarming, but true. Delhi’s groundwater table is receding steadily at a pace that could leave the Capital waging a ‘water war’ for every drop of this precious liquid.

August 02, 2014 08:36 am | Updated November 16, 2021 05:45 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

It’s alarming, but true. Delhi’s groundwater table is receding steadily at a pace that could leave the Capital waging a ‘water war’ for every drop of this precious liquid. The reason for the drop have been studied, understood and documented, and several measures introduced to net the fall. However, latest figures released by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) show that not enough has been done to reverse the worrying trend.

According to the figures, 62 per cent of the wells, which are analysed to keep a tab on groundwater levels, showed a decline in their level in 2013 compared to the average of preceding 10-year (2003-12) period.

“The situation is worse than before,” confirmed environmentalist Vinod Jain, who has been working in the area of water conservation here.

So precariously is Delhi’s water table placed that the State government had to step in to declare South and South-West districts of Delhi as notified areas, where there is to be no more extraction of groundwater. East, New Delhi, North-East, North-West and West Delhi districts have also been declared ‘over-exploited areas’ in terms of groundwater extraction.

The main reasons for decline in groundwater levels in Delhi includes increasing groundwater withdrawal for various purposes, especially in areas where piped water supply is inadequate, and the rapid pace of urbanisation that results in reduced natural recharge of aquifers.

“In Delhi, the groundwater table spread over 1,484 square km has declined between 2 metre and 20 metre, and we are now actually looking at the prospect of a huge water crisis if the situation is not remedied soon. The city needs over 3,324 million litres of water a day (MLD) while it gets just over 2,000 MLD. The average water consumption in Delhi is estimated at 240-litre per capita per day (lpcd), the highest in the country,” added Mr. Jain.

Admitting that Delhi has been facing rapid decline in groundwater levels in the recent years, which calls for attention and close watch through monitoring the CGWB in its year book 2011-12, the Board has noted that Delhi’s rapid increase in population, at the rate of 2.1 per cent per annum during the decade 2001-2011, has taken a toll.

“Delhi has total area of 1,484 sq km, of which fully developed urban area is 525 sq km. With over 14 million inhabitants, the city is bursting at seams. The water availability from surface water sources, viz. the Yamuna, Ganga and Bhakra systems is approximately 1,150 million cubic metre [MCM]. And of this, 60 per cent is available from the Yamuna. Total groundwater availability is of the order of 290 MCM per year. Delhi receives a total average rainfall of around 600 mm per year, of which 80 per cent is received in three months [July- September],” added a senior official at the Union Ministry of Water Resources.

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