have enough water. We only need proper water management
D K Chaddha,
chairperson, Central Ground Water Authority
(CGWA), New Delhi, talks to Jitendra
Verma on the state of groundwater
What is the state of groundwater in India?
Indias groundwater is not in a very good state. The
annual recharge of water is far less than what is consumed.
The situation is more alarming in urban areas due to population
pressure and industrial growth, which in turn have led to
increased water consumption.
The total groundwater sources, which are annually recharged,
provide around 43 million cubic metres (mcm) of water, out
of which only 7 mcm is reserved for drinking and industrial
purposes; 36 mcm is reserved for irrigation. The total need
is assessed at 64 mcm at the end of the Eighth Five-Year Plan.
What is the situation in Delhi?
Delhi does not have enough clean water. The city needs 800-mega
gallons per day (mgd) of water while it gets only 600 mgd.
The Delhi government has to depend on the neighbouring states
for the extra 200 mgd. The problem will become more acute
in the near future because fresh water sources will decrease
and the city will be surrounded by brackish and saline water.
If the groundwater is exploited without being recharged, then
it will also affect the fresh water. Even fresh water tubewells
are now yielding brackish water. This means that the fresh
water has been polluted. Moreover, there has been a likely
increase of fluoride and nitrate content beyond permissible
What are the
obstacles in solving this crisis?
We have provided details of fresh water sources in the city
to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB). But they are very slow and instead
of exploiting the sources that have been identified, the djb
is depending on neighbouring states. Already a lot of damage
has been done to Delhi because tubewells have been dug up
without any proper technical advice. If this trend continues,
then the potable water situation will worsen. On many occasions
groundwater contamination has been due to the carelessness
of the people and industries. Clear guidelines set by the
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have been violated
repeatedly. We have to be strict with polluters if this problem
has to be solved. We must also develop a mechanism to use
polluted water for non-drinking and cooking purposes.
One viable solution would be to go for recharging through
rainwater harvesting. The excess water is not harvested even
when there is a flood in the Yamuna. However, we are working
to utilise this floodwater. We will make a deep well through
a channel and push the water deep inside. It will act as a
storage tank. It will also help in reducing the concentration
of fluorides and nitrates.
The CGWA has recently come out with
artificial recharging of groundwater.
Artificial recharging can ease the groundwater crisis because
it helps in protecting water resources and assures a constant
supply of clean water. The cgwa is analysing different workable
and cost-effective recharging technologies. After the project
is completed, we will demonstrate its effectiveness in various
government buildings and institutions.
Roof-top water harvesting structures have already been implemented
at the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi. Around 50
mcm of water can be kept in reserve by storing the excess
water during rainy season. We need to maintain a constant
water level. We have already taken initiatives to make residents
aware about the grim scenario and the possible solutions.
Do you think
there is any need to change the water policy?
I dont think so. We have enough water. We only need
to manage the available water resources properly. Instead
of developing big water systems, we should go for smaller
ones. In other words, we should decentralise the water system.
Different areas should have their own water system so that
it can be managed properly. At least we can try it on an experimental
basis in some areas.
We have enough water. We only
need to manage the available water resources properly.
Instead of developing large water systems, we should
go for small ones