It is a fact that Bengaluru’s water table is plummeting. But a three-year survey done by the government, to monitor the effectiveness of its efforts, shows that little has improved. Despite spending several crores of rupees to rejuvenate and desilt lakes and ponds, and install rainwater harvesting system, over the last few years, the water table in many parts of the state has hardly shown any improvement.
The city is still ill-prepared for the coming summer. Rivers and reservoirs are drying up and the inadequate monsoon in the last couple of years has failed to recharge groundwater. Coupled with this, the increased use of groundwater for potable and agricultural purposes has further pushed the water table down across Karnataka.
Out of the 176 taluks, as many as 85 taluks, including those in Bengaluru Urban and Rural districts, have lower water tables by several metres. According to the details tabled by the minor irrigation department at the legislative session in Belagavi, water levels here have gone down by 1 to 4 metres. Interestingly, Bengaluru East is the only exception where the levels have gone up by 2.07 meters, according to the state government.
Though the fast-depleting levels of groundwater has worried the government, the department has attributed the trend to poor monsoon and increased dependence on groundwater. “Increased use of underground water for industrial purposes and by apartment complexes, coupled with changing agricultural practices, have resulted in the current state,” said TB Jayachandra, Minister for Minor Irrigation.
Inadequate rainfall has only added to the problem. “In the last three years, there has been a drop in the annual rainfall and the pattern too has been erratic. This has affected the natural recharge of groundwater,” he added.
Alarmed by the trend, the department had been conducting a survey to access water level across the state, validating it once every two years. The latest results from 85 taluks show that there has been no improvement in the water table. But even worse, Anekal, Bengaluru South (Bengaluru Urban), Hoskote, Devanahalli and Doddaballapura are running low on groundwater, which has created some concern for the coming summer.
In Bengaluru South, the water table has dropped by at least 4 m, according to the department. Similarly, Anekal too witnessed a fall by 1.2 m. “The position of underground water has been assessed by considering the average rise and fall of groundwater table in the last three years,” explained a senior bureaucrat with the Minor Irrigation department.
In the last three years, the department has spent Rs.3.27 crore on creating awareness and sensitising the public on judicious use of groundwater.
The Supreme Court’s latest order to release 2,000 cusecs of water every day to Tamil Nadu has only added to Bengaluru water woes for the coming summer. “Currently, the water storage in Cauvery basin is 16TMC. Bengaluru alone would require 11 to 12 TMC for the next five months, and 3-4 TMC for Mysuru. This apart, smaller cities and towns such as Mandya, Maddur, Ramanagara also need to be supplied with potable water. During summer, there will be loss of water at least by 1 or 2 TMC due to evaporation and seepage. Hence it is likely that Bengaluru might face shortage of water during the summer,” said an engineer from the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board.
Credits Bangalore Mirror