Could Lead To Severe Water Crisis, SC ToldAmitAnand.Choudhary@timesgroup.com
The capital, already facing a severe drinking water shortage, is heading towards a more serious situation as the level of groundwater, continuously depleting in the last two decades, has resulted in 90% of
the city being categorised as semi-critical or critical.
Presenting a dismal picture, the Central Ground Water Board told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the water level has been decreasing from 0.5 metre to over 2 metres per year at different places in Delhi and could lead to a crisis if not halted. Compiling data on groundwater levels from year 2,000 onwards, the board in its report said water levels at all its 20 monitoring stations have seen a steady decline with areas around Chhatarpur, Dwarka and the President’s Estate hit the worst.
As per the report, 27% of the national capital territory’s 1,483 sq km had ground water at the level of 0-5 metres in 2010 but in 17 years this has shrunk to 11%. In 2000, ground water was available till 40 metres but at present water levels in 15% of Delhi, or around 222 sq km, have plunged to 40-80 metres.
The board has placed almost all of Delhi in semi-critical or critical zones except a few pockets of west and central Delhi, which have been declared safe as per 2005-10 data. The problem might be serious in NCR because of over-exploitation of ground water for construction.
Water table exploited up to 300% in parts of Ggn
Parts of Gurgaon suffer from severe over-exploitation of water to the extent of 300%. “Analysis of long-term water level data of May 2000 to the present period reveals that over the period, in areas categorised as over-exploited as per ground water resources estimation of 2013, mostly in South, South East, New Delhi, East, North East and also parts of West and South West district, water level decline rate varies from 0.5m per year to more than 2m per year at places,” the report said.
“There are some pockets, where change in water level is not significant or remain unchanged. Such pockets of shallow and rising water level areas are diminishing over the period. As such, major part of the state is under over-exploited and semi-critical category and in such areas, water levels are showing persistent declining trend during the last two decades,” it said.
Terming the report as “startling and very serious”, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said immediate steps must be taken to avert the looming crisis. The court also pointed out that even the President’s Estate was under critical zone and asked the Centre “does it mean that you are not able to provide water to the President”?
Conceding that Delhi is staring at crisis, additional solicitor general A N S Nadkarni said the government will file a response on measures to be taken to deal with the problem. He said the entire world is facing the crisis and it is widely believed that next world war might be fought over water.