Sinking borewells won't mitigate water crisis: RDPR secretary

Sinking borewells won't mitigate water crisis: RDPR secretary

Sinking borewells is no solution to tackling water crisis. Aggressively advocating rainwater harvesting will help mitigate the scarcity, said Amita Prasad, principal secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR).

Addressing officials on World Water Day, Prasad said the biggest problem faced by the Department of Panchayat Raj and Rural Development was not effectively managing water wealth. Water quality and coverage should be the priority. Sinking of borewells should be stopped, she said.

The officer said 14 districts in the State were affected by fluoride, nitrate, arsenic or other chemical pollutants – a direct resultant of groundwater depletion.
“The department should campaign aggressively on rainwater harvesting and use of technologies like V-wire injection,” she said.

There are around 2.75 lakh borewells catering to the drinking water needs of the people in the State. Of them, around 5,000 are in Bangalore Rural and around 6,600 in Bangalore Urban.

Pledging to mitigate water crisis in the State in the next five years, Prasad said supply of 55 lpcd (litres per capital per day) of water per person and sanitation should be the first strategy. The second would be to rope in 10 non-governmental organisations and initiate community training programmes at school level, gram panchayat and at stree shakti group level.

She said though Karnataka was only next to Rajasthan when it came to water crisis, the State government had managed to notch up the third spot in water management.

The department has a budget of Rs 1,500 crore for water projects, while the Centre had sanctioned Rs 100 crore as an incentive grant for its performance.

Prasad said the department would institute an award from next year for officials who solve water problems in their respective jurisdictions.

Amit Pandey, Regional Manager, Southern Region, Water Aid India, said around 1,000 children die every day due to diarrhoea. “When water is not of good quality, it means death. If we want to stop these children from dying, then we have to make quality the issue,” he said. Water Aid was now focusing on dispensing village level training on importance of consuming quality water, he added.

Pandey said the organisation would distribute literature pertaining to the subject, apart from releasing audio-video training material, which will be aired on radio and television.

Fluoride menace

A water quality survey conducted in 2010-11 has revealed that borewell water in 15,001 households across the State was chemically polluted. A 2011-12 survey showed the numbers had reduced to 10,135 households.

Of the 56,682 inhabited villages in the State, 21,008 villages face water problems. According to the 2001-02 water quality survey, high fluoride concentration was detected in 5,838 villages, high iron content in 6,633 villages, high nitrate content in drinking water sources of 4,077 villages and that 4,460 villages had high salt content in drinking water sources.

High fluoride concentration in drinking water has been identified in Chikkaballapur, Tumkur, Gadag, Kolar, Chitradurga, Davangere, Gulbarga, Bellary, Koppal and Raichur districts.

The fluoride content permissible in drinking water as per the World Health Organisation standards is 1.5 ppm. In as many as 16 districts, fluorosis problem has been noticed. Excess fluoride concentration beyond potable permissible limits of 0.5 to 1.5 mg/l is reported in central, northern and eastern parts of the State.

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