BENGALURU: A survey by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) on the levels of ground water in each state has revealed a disturbing decline in ground water levels in 69 per cent of the wells in Karnataka. This should serve as a reminder for the state to be prepared for a dry summer, and may be worse ahead.
Karnataka’s situation is worse than the ‘dry’ state of Rajasthan, which recorded ground water level decline in 50 per cent of the wells surveyed. The national average was 61 per cent, slightly better than that of Karnataka.
Rapid construction activity and population growth in the urban centres and faulty cropping pattern in the rural areas in Karnataka have been blamed for this disturbing situation.As per the report available with The New Indian Express, as many as four South Indian states -- Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka -- are in a worse state as far as ground water level is concerned with decline rate much lower than the national average. While 87 per cent of wells in Tamil Nadu have shown a decline in ground water levels, Andhra had 75 per cent such wells and Kerala 70 per cent.
However, the situation in Telangana is far better with 46 per cent decline. In states like Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Rajasthan and Gujarat, the ground water level has risen fairly better than the southern states.
Jayaprakash, scientist at CGWB, has blamed over-exploitation of ground water in urban and rural areas for the decline. In the urban regions, it is the population growth and the urban-oriented activities which are sucking ground water. Construction activity too leads to dip in ground water level. In the rural areas, it is mainly the water consumed through irrigation activities.
“The cropping pattern has changed from raagi-growing to coconut, plantain, areca nut, sugarcane and other water consuming crops. These kind of crops are grown using flood irrigation system, where water is allowed to constantly flow. In this process, water not only goes inside land, but also gets evaporated. At many places, farmers try to dig borewells to get water to grow such crops that need more water. If this practice continues, in a couple of years, water will decline to such levels that land will turn barren,” he said.
Former irrigation secretary and water expert Captain Raja Rao, too, has blamed the excess usage of borewells. He said there is Karnataka Ground Water (Regulation and Control of Development and Management) Act, but it is not enforced effectively.
Karnataka has reached a crucial stage in ground water, he pointed out, adding: “If the situation persists, in the next few years, with no water, soil level will sink; and that will threaten lives. Farmers and others are digging more and more borewells, but many of them have failed. Rainwater harvesting that is made mandatory should be extended to all. It should be scientifically done to catch water at the ground level. Krushi Honda, government scheme should also be popularised.”“Now that it is the election year, political parties must include this in their manifestos.”