Ban on new borewells on the cards

Ban on new borewells on the cards

Ban on new borewells on the cards

 For, the Minor Irrigation Department is likely to impose a ban on sinking new borewells in several places across these districts in the coming days, as per the provisions of the Karnataka Ground Water (Regulation and Control of Development and Management) Bill, 2011, passed in both Houses of the State Legislature recently.

Borewells, and not the piped water supply, are the main source of drinking water for people in these places. In case someone wants to sink a borewell with or without the consent of the government, there is no water available.  As per a “Dynamic Groundwater Resources of Karnataka, 2010,” report compiled by the Department of Mines and Geology, these five districts are among the worst affected in the State in terms of groundwater table. Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural and Kolar districts have been identified as “over-exploited” areas, where the water table has depleted considerably. Besides, the groundwater table in about 60 per cent of Mysore taluk limits has been identified as “critical.”

A major cause for concern is contamination. Due to the depletion of the water table, a very high content of nitrate and fluoride has been found in these places.

“The report shows the grim picture of groundwater resources. As many as 35 taluks are identified as over-exploited and three taluks as critical across the State. We want to conduct an intensive survey of the groundwater level and its quality in the these taluks and planning to impose a ban on sinking of new borewells in the interests of public,” Secretary to Minor Irrigation department P N Srinivasachari said.

People living in Bangalore Urban district (on the outskirts), Bangalore Rural and Chikkaballapur districts are mainly dependent on the ground water. Almost every household in these places has a borewell, as there is no piped water supply. Of the 200 wards of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, only about 125 wards are being provided with piped water supply by Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board.

Srinivasachari said groundwater in Bangalore has been contaminated due to reckless discharge of sewage water. Groundwater has depleted considerably in the recent years due to construction of multi-storied apartment complexes.

As a result, almost all traditional open wells located in the old Bangalore areas like Basavanagudi, Chamarajpet, Malleshwaram and all peta regions have dried up, he added.

The Groundwater Regulation Bill proposes to set up a Karnataka Groundwater Authority. The 17-member authority is empowered to notify any area in Karnataka and regulate groundwater usage. It also has powers to ban digging of new borewells and open wells in the notified area, if necessary. Minor Irrigation department Secretary will be its chairman.

Though the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj department has already imposed some restrictions on borewells in the rural areas, the rules are not being implemented strictly. As per the rules, there should be at least 500 metres between a drinking water borewell and an irrigation borewell. At least a 250-metre distance should be maintained between the two irrigation borewells.

However, there is no regulation groundwater usage in the urban areas. Besides, the bill has made it mandatory for owners of borewells and open wells across the State to register themselves. Those who violate the stipulated rules are liable for punishment with a fine ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000 or imprisonment of term ranging from three months to one year.

The bill now requires the governor’s assent.

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