136 Talukas Staring at Drinking Water Paucity in July

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Article courtesy of Neha Madaan | June 28, 2014 | The Times of India | Shared as educational material

PUNE: The rainfall deficit and the depleting water table will have a telling effect on 136 talukas in the state which may face drinking water paucity as early as in July. These include 14 talukas and locations in Pune district and its surrounding areas. 

A recent Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (GSDA) analysis showed that 40% of the areas surrounding these 136 blocks may also face scarcity because it takes 15-20 days for rain to percolate into the ground–and a good spell of rainfall doesn’t seem in sight right now. 

In Pune, scarcity-hit areas include Pune city, Ambegaon, Velhe, Baramati, Bhor, Daund, Haveli, Indapur, Junnar, Khed, Maval, Mulshi, Purandar and Shirur. 

In an estimate in October 2013, the agency had said drinking water scarcity would occur in 100 blocks which had either experienced rainfall deficit of more than 20% associated with a water-table depletion of more than one metre or those which had experienced no rainfall deficit, but still showed a water-table depletion of more than one metre. 

More analysis of the same report shows that in October 2013, there were only three blocks which had reported rainfall deficit of more than 20% associated with a water-table depletion of more than one metre, 32 blocks which had reported rainfall deficit up to 20% associated with a water-table depletion of more than one metre and 65 blocks in the state which had reported no rainfall deficit, but still showed a water-table depletion of more than one metre. 

Suresh Khandale, additional director of GSDA, told TOI that a recent analysis in May 2014 told a different story. “From October 2013 till May 2014, there was greater pumping out of groundwater. Our recent report in January, March and May 2014, found that there are five such blocks which had reported rainfall deficit of more than 20% in October 2013 and now show a water-table depletion of more than one metre, 35 blocks with rainfall deficit up to 20% then, but now have a water table depletion of more than one metre and 96 blocks that had no rainfall deficit in October 2013 but still show a water table depletion of more than one metre now, taking the tally of such blocks to 136,” he said. 

The change was a result of mismanagement and haphazard use of groundwater in the affected areas and increased extraction. Groundwater replenishment starts from June in a normal monsoon year and goes on till September with rainfall. Discharge starts from October till May. Roughly 200 to 300 mm rainfall is needed to replenish the water table though this measure differs from area to area. 

The depletion of the water table in the 96 blocks is alarming, especially when the rainfall in 2013 was substantial. “We hope that once it rains, the water table in the state would be replenished and the drinking water scarcity issues will be addressed to some extent,” he added.

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