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Depleting ground water resources

Last Updated : 18 May 2009, 16:24 IST
Last Updated : 18 May 2009, 16:24 IST

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Come summer and the water crisis across Jharkhand becomes a common phenomenon. However, there are reasons for environmentalists to be worried about. Despite the good spell of rain during the monsoon in the last one decade, the ground water table across the state has depleted alarmingly, exposing people to the threat of arsenic poisoning in some parts of the state.


A survey conducted by the state’s groundwater directorate that monitors groundwater resources every year before and after the monsoon, has revealed that on an average the water table has depleted further by two feet across the state compared to the previous years.

The survey presents a gloomy picture. While the groundwater table in Bokaro has gone down to 31 feet compared to 29 feet earlier, in Jamshedpur the water table has slipped to 41 feet as against 39 feet earlier. Again in the state capital, the water lever had dwindled to 40 feet compared to 37 feet in the previous year. Dhanbad recorded 47 feet compared to 45 feet in the previous year. The situation has come to such a sorry pass in some parts of Ranchi that deep boring till 1000 feet has failed to yield water.

“The common perception is that the groundwater resource is infinite. But this is a misnomer as the groundwater table in Jharkhand has dwindled below the level that the state witnessed about seven years back. And if indiscriminate water mining continued without taking steps for water harvesting, the water level at several places might slip to an alarming situation where the people of the state would stand exposed to poisonous and toxic elements,” said director of state groundwater directorate SLS Jageshwar, talking to Deccan Herald.

According to state groundwater directorate the presence of arsenic in the groundwater has already been detected in parts of Sahebganj, Rajmahal and Palamau area of Jharkhand.

“This is indeed a very dangerous sign. Of the 2500 samples collected each from Sahebganj, Rajmahal and Palamau area, around 250 and 300 samples were found to be contaminated by the vitriolic arsenic. The samples from Palamau also showed the presence of arsenic,” said Jageshwar.

Quite glaringly, soaring temperature and scorching heat has begun taking a toll this year differently. 

The scorching heat has already arrested the 144 feet descent of the famous Dasam Falls. Again, while the Jonhha (140 ft), Sita (114 ft) and Kirni (120 ft) have also dried up, the most magnificent waterfall in the state called Hundru at 320 feet has been reduced to a trickle. Not just the waterfalls, streams and rivulets that meander through the dark, dense forests and are perennial sources of water are also drying up. These apart, many wells, tube wells and hand pumps have already gone dry in many parts of the state. If environmentalists and geologists are to be believed the developments are due to erratic climatic change.

Water harvesting

As things stand now, director of state groundwater directorate SLS Jageshwar believes that creating awareness among people about the importance of water harvesting is the urgent need of the hour or else things would take a turn for the worst.

“The monsoon is the only time when we have a good spell of rain every year and probably the most suitable time for water harvesting. On our part, we have so far constructed around 150 recharge pits in government building premises for water harvesting. This apart, we are also organising sensitisation programmes, seminars and workshops every year,” said Jageshwar.

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Published 18 May 2009, 16:24 IST

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