Groundwater Regulation Act is need of the hour: eco report

EPTRI presents ‘TS state of environment report’ to govt.

February 20, 2018 02:44 am | Updated February 22, 2018 07:49 am IST - HYDERABAD

File photo of an borewell that has fallen into disuse due to depletion of ground water level in Warangal city.

File photo of an borewell that has fallen into disuse due to depletion of ground water level in Warangal city.

There is an urgent need to enact a Groundwater Regulation and Control Act in Telangana on the lines of a Central Model Bill that has been introduced in this regard. Such a law would help regulate groundwater extraction and prevent ruthless drilling of earth for pumping groundwater.

The ‘TS state of environment report’, a draft prepared by the Environment, Protection, Training and Research Institute (EPTRI) and recently presented to the government, emphasised that the State has to promote the idea of conjunctive use of water from surface, rainwater harvesting, etc. to wean off excessive pressure on groundwater sources.

Prepared with support of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the draft report indicated the dire current state of ecology and gave a series of recommendations to be followed in various sectors to lower pollution levels, and improve farm production and conditions for flora and fauna to thrive.

Deep water levels of over 20 metres have been observed in most parts of Medak, Mahabubnagar, Ranga Reddy, Nizamabad, Nalgonda and parts of Karimnagar, Warangal, Khammam and Adilabad districts. It also stated that the government has been sanctioning Reserve Osmosis plants in quality/fluoride affected habitations, but the impact of such plants is that the water-rejection rate is around 25% to 45%.

Although RO plants provide an immediate solution to get over water quality related problems, they were unsustainable in the longer run because of the high pressure it exerted on groundwater. The report called for an empirical investigation to ascertain the impact of such plants on groundwater and on water governance.

Groundwater safety clearance should be made mandatory before according clearance to mines whether they are major or minor. Abandoned mines or quarries could be utilised for installing solar panels for generating solar energy, while mine quarry pits could be used for water storage.

Fortify Biodiversity Board

TS Biodiversity Board should be strengthened with diverse experts working on bio-resources to manage and assess multiple implications of its depletion. Both botanical and zoological surveys should work in coordination with the Board to provide authentic information on biodiversity wealth and to take appropriate decisions, the report said.

Telangana has 17 species of amphibians, 65 species of reptiles and 103 species of mammals are assessed for threatened status by Species Specialist Group of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The assessed species in IUCN red list constitute only 30% and rest of the species are either not assessed or data is insufficient. The species of birds in the State are estimated to be around 275-300. The information on invertebrate groups is limited to a few groups and explorations.

Over 50% of all vulnerable species occur in at least one or the other protected area in Telangana and there are2,800 taxa belonging to 1,051 genera under 185 families. This accounts for 16% of the angiosperms known from India. There are 10 national parks or wildlife sanctuaries, 65 sacred groves and about 30 lakes provide potential habitats for biodiversity.

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