ROURKELA: Even as excessive exploitation of groundwater for commercial, agricultural and personal purposes continues in the industrial and mining district of Sundargarh along with rapid depletion of surface water, there has been no integrated approach to arrest the situation and recharge water resources.
At a time when water scarcity continues to assume alarming proportion with each passing summer, government machineries and people are oblivious to the need of tapping rain water harvesting potentials.
Sources said till January 2016, the Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation (OLIC) had 2,800 deep borewells and 1,800 more were to be energised. Unspecified numbers of well-off farmers own deep borewells and the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) owns at least 23,869 tubewells, 435 deep borewell-supported piped water projects, about 400 community solar pumps and 180 more are on the anvil.
Similarly, about 60 industries have taken licences to use ground and surface water while half a dozen unauthorised packaged water supply plants are drawing water from both the sources.
While the Rourkela Industrial Township of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) is facing unprecedented water crisis with drying up of river Koel, several slums in Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) areas are in the grip of acute shortage for water. Sundargarh district headquarters town is hit by drying up of Ib river while the situation in Birmitrapur and Rajgangpur towns are no better. This information are not comprehensive as groundwater consumption by PHED, big hotels, commercial and residential buildings, mining offices and individual households are left out.
Rourkela Development Authority (RDA) chairman Sarada Prasad Nayak said installation of rain water harvesting structure is not mandatory, yet the civic body has been insisting on it while approving building plans. RDA Town Planner RM Mishra echoed similar views and said the Housing and Urban Development department is now giving importance to designing and developing green buildings with focus on water and energy conservation.
Convenor of Water Initiatives-Odisha Ranjan Panda said both natural and artificial rain water harvesting methods in identified basin areas would go a long way towards retention and enhancement of ground and surface water tables. It is now ‘do or die’ situation for the State to redesign development planning with integrated approach to combine forestry and recharging of groundwater, he added.
Collector Bhupendra Singh Poonia said against the water availability potential, the water withdrawal is much less in the district. Proper planning is required for use and recharge of ground and surface water, he added.