Visakhapatnam

Groundwater table falls, but borewells mushroom

People queue up for taking water from a GVMC tanker at Jalaripeta in Visakhapatnam.  

The water crisis that has the city in a vice-like grip has proved to be a great leveller, bringing both the rich and the poor to their knees.

Years of unchecked water wastage has finally led to a situation where a family has to get by each day only on a few buckets of water. Groundwater levels have fallen to rock bottom, while Mudasarlova, Gambhiram Gedda and the Gosthani have almost dried up, forcing the GVMC to pump from the dead water storage of the Raiwada reservoir for the first time by spending about ₹2 crore.

Faced with shrinking yields from wells or bore-wells and unable to meet their needs, residents, particularly of apartments, are facing hardships. Those who can afford are buying tankers — either from the online ‘Dial- a-Tanker' of GVMC or private tankers.

Acute scarcity

With the soaring demand, even GVMC started roping in tankers other than those registered with it under the ‘Dial-a-Tanker’ scheme after a scarcity arose due to tankers being sent to cyclone-hit Odisha.

"Now, we have a backlog of 500 to 600 trips and are running 70 to 80 trips to meet the demand," says Superintendent Engineer G.V. Pallam Raju. Even GVMC could sink only half of the 52 borewells planned as part of its Summer Action Plan. To cater to areas not served by regular supply, it runs 398 trips using 75 tankers mostly covering Bhimili, Zone I, Wards 55, 56 and 57 of Zone IV.

Most of the piezometers in the areas falling under Visakhapatnam Urban show a fall in groundwater levels. At City Central Park and Sivajipalem, the water table is at a depth of more than 18 metres showing a fall of nearly 4.8 metres and 3.1 metres respectively with reference to May last. The average depth of the water table is 10.67 metres.

Harsh terrain

With rocky terrain, less fractured zones and no perennial source nearby to recharge after depletion, water levels recoup only at intervals resulting in lower yields, says Deputy Director, Groundwater, K.S. Sastry. There was virtually no rain after October 2018 resulting in a long dry spell and as a result the availability was low, he said.

Even the deficit in rainfall was deceptive since the average was made up by excessive and heavy rainfall in one or two mandals of the Agency areas.

Few options

Going for new water connections, sinking new borewells or supplementing supply with tankers are the only options left for residents in general and apartment residents in particular.

“In the last season, we sank 100 to 150 borewells. The number almost doubled this season,” says P. Srihari Raju of S.R. Bore Wells.

While during last year the bore-wells sunk were fresh ones, this time half of them were in the place of old ones that had collapsed, he says.

The depth to which the wells are sunk has also gone up considerably. Against the average of the earlier 120 to 200 feet in the past, the bores are now going beyond 300 feet and up to 400 feet. Areas like MVP Colony, Kancharapalem, Viman Nagar, Potina Mallayya Palem and near the Cricket Stadium still yield water at below 300 feet. Being rocky areas, Daspalla Hills, T. B. Hospital, Maddilapalem, Seethammadhara and Mithilapuri Layout produce water between 300 and 400 feet, said Mr. Raju. Areas like Akkayyapalem, Abidnagar and Srinivasanagar still yield water between 200 and 250 feet. The depth of digging is decided based on the advice of a geologist, Mr. Raju says.

The increase in the number of borewell rigs is also an indication of the growing demand. There are presently 70 to 100 rigs, almost a 50% increase compared to last year, according to Mr. Raju.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 3:02:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/groundwater-table-falls-but-borewells-mushroom/article27706833.ece

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