How this crisis can be hallucinogenic
Karnataka minister H K Patil has unfurled a plan to drill down to about a kilometre to get at “pure and uncontaminated” water in the earth’s bowels. The government is banking on reports by ISRO and the Mashelkar Committee that talk about water veins deep down.
It will be expensive, the minister conceded, and never tried before in India. He seemed clueless about how such channels can be detected and the environmental impact it will have. “So what if we are drilling into the Earth? Aren’t we drilling for oil now?” Patil said.
The spark for the project came from a presentation made by a private company, WaterQuest Hydroresources Management Limited, early this year in Delhi. The minister is keen on engaging this company to drill as deep as it takes.
Why so deep?
Because unconfined and confined aquifers have dried up closer to the surface.
Water-table has receded and only after 800m aquifer will be found.
Village decides to dig 200 wells
And in Kerala, instead of going vertical in one go, the people of Pookkottukav, a gram panchayat in Palakkad district, have decided to dig 200 wells in five months under MGNREGS. One well was dug a couple of weeks ago. Drought’s not a fright in Kerala but only a foreboding. Reports say that the state’s sort-of drought is the worst in 115 years. Trains are reportedly not being washed in Thiruvananthapuram as it requires 3.5 lakh litres a day. The bogies stink.
Nothing on the other side
In Telangana, the state government has emerged on the other side of the hole in the earth. Having tired of digging fruitless bore wells, the Telangana government has declared as many as 1,057 villages across the state as over-exploited villages. So any more bore holes are banned in these villages.
Dry in the heart of India
After 10 years of off and on droughts in Bundelkhand -- and mass migration on account of it – the administration has given certification to Sagar district as a water-deficient district. Droughts are not endemic in the Gangetic plain but Bundelkhand – which straddles UP and MP -- has fallen through the cracks. A few days back, Bakswaha block in Chhattarpur district was declared water-deficient. In the UP part of Bundelkhand, there is no water even at 800 feet. Reports say that if the present trend of overtapping continues for five more years, water will be adequate for just 50 per cent of the population.
Land of five rivers being over-exploited
So you thought Punjab was pastoral? Of the 138 blocks in the state, ground water in 105 blocks is over-exploited. In about 50 per cent of the area of Punjab, land of five rivers, ground water levels have dropped from 15m to 30m. A NASA report has shown that water is being pumped up and out faster than can be recharged in Punjab.
Meanwhile, we’re down to 27 pc of capacity
Water storage in the 91 major reservoirs in the country has dipped to 27 per cent of their capacity, the Union Water Resources ministry has said in its weekly update. Last week that dread figure was 29 per cent. The good news is that it is better than the level at this time last year.