Telangana sees sharp drop in groundwater table

Western and northern parts of Hyderabad worst affected

June 27, 2019 12:27 am | Updated 07:37 am IST - Hyderabad

Residents of Hyderabad are drawing between 600% and 140% of the annual recharge of groundwater table, according to scientists at the Telangana Groundwater Department. “The groundwater table in Hyderabad and Telangana is going down rapidly as the extraction rate is high. On an average, Hyderabad is drawing 340% of the annual recharge volume,” informs Pandith Madhnure, Director of Telangana Groundwater Department, quoting the latest data collected by the department.

In Qutbullapur, the water table has reached 42.71 metres below the ground level (MBGL). In Medchal, it has dipped by 23.13 mbgl, and in Hasmatpet, water levels have dropped by a whopping 10.47 mbgl. In 2018, Hyderabad received 27% below normal annual rainfall calculated by the IMD.

The worst-affected areas due to sharp decline in the water level are the western and northern parts of the metropolis that include densely-populated areas like West Marredpally, Kukatpally, Jubilee Hills and Ameerpet. In the southern and eastern parts of the city, water is still available at a shallower depth. “The Musi River flowing through the southern part of the city might be a reason for the water table remaining stable in that region,” says Mr. Madhnure, based on the calculation of nitrate and chloride content in the water in the region.

Large parts of Telangana and Hyderabad are sited on Deccan Trap Basalts and Granite Basement Complex with limited permeability of water affecting the recharge rate. “The primary porosity of the ground in this region is quite less as 70-80% is hard rock. The inevitable urbanisation with asphalting and layers of concrete are altering the natural percolation process. Groundwater recharge is better when the contact time between raindrops and ground is more, else they runs off without any benefit,” says Mr. Madhnure, who cites plastic litter as one of the factors affecting the groundwater recharge.

The State average water level during May 2019 dropped to 14.56 mbgl from 12.73 mbgl in 2018 showing a decline of 1.83 mbgl. How is this dipping water level impacting the residents of the city can be seen from the uncertainty they face every summer. “We moved into this apartment eight years ago, and we recently dug a fifth bore-well in our complex. We spent ₹3.5 lakh, and luckily, we struck water at a lower level, but we dug to a depth of 335 metres,” says an apartment owner at Nalanda Colony near Upperpally.

The Composite Water Management Index by Niti Aayog on June 14 listed Hyderabad as one of the cities that would reach zero groundwater level by 2020 along with 20 other major cities, including Delhi and Bengaluru. The Niti Aayog also mentioned that this would affect about 100 million people across the country.

Will Kaleshwaram change State’s story?

However, a ray of hope for Telangana is the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project that is expected to pump a massive volume of Godavari water and make it available to large areas in the State. “We are setting up monitoring stations to keep track of how this large volume of water will affect the water table. We should be able to access the impact of over 200 tmc ft flowing over land in three or four years,” said Pandith Madhnure. About 20 tmc ft of Kaleswaram water is allocated for Hyderabad, which may lower the city’s dependency on groundwater.

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