A study in Kerala conducted by the Kerala Pollution Control Board in association with the SEU on the bacteriological quality of dug wells in Kerala observed that “water in none of the open dug wells investigated is of drinking water quality standards” as prescribed by Bureau of India Standard. Since Kerala is the only place in the world having highest density of open dug well (250 per sq.km) and 50% of population used this as the only source of water for drinking. In this situation, the Government of Kerala along with other stakeholders including NGOs, take stock of the situation in order to mitigate the acute shortage of drinking water.
Overexploitation, Groundwater, rainwater harvesting, IWRM, water table, water right
Two thirds of the earth’s surface is covered by water but 97.5 percent of this water is saline (oceans and sea) and not fit for drinking and other domestic purposes. Of the remaining 2.5 percent, only 0.5 percent is available for drinking and other domestic as freshwater sources found in rivers, lakes and as underground water. It was further noted that 40% of world’s population lives areas of acute water scarcity. UN Population Fund predicts that there will be acute of shortage of freshwater by 2050. About 3 billion people do not have adequate sanitation facilities, and 11,000 children die of water-related diseases every day.
In India, one fifth of urban population and three quarters of rural population do not have access to safe drinking water unless there will be no integrated water management strategy. Rivers in India are dying due to industrial pollution, accumulation of domestic sewage, agricultural runoff, pesticides, sand mining, extraction of water and irrigation etc. Water scarcity, pollution and stress are the creations of modern India. Regular monitoring of groundwater (1996-2003) along the Chennai coast shows an alarming doubling and tripling of salinity levels. Fluoride is contaminating drinking water all over India whereas there is arsenic contamination in the groundwater of West Bengal.
Overexploitation of groundwater in India is reported to be so acute in several regions of India subsequent to the depletion of ground water table in an alarming rate. The indiscriminate exploitation of groundwater has changed the hydro-geo-chemical environment of the aquifers and enhanced the toxic and chemical levels of water beyond the permissible limit, mainly fluoride, arsenic, TDS, nitrate etc. The direct health impact on these toxic chemicals in drinking water leading to the manifestation of various water-borne and water-related diseases. Government of India has reported that water-borne diseases have serious health implications due to high morbidity and mortality, and with potentiality of epidemics. Further, young children bear maximum of disease burden. India loses every year about 400000 children under 5 years of age mainly due to diarrhoea (GOI, 2003).
Eastern and western and the Deccan parts of India are among the worst water-stressed areas of the world whereas the rest of the country follows close behind. Once water was in abundance in those parts of India- Kerala, West Bengal and Chirrapunje- have developed acute shortage of water due to deforestation, which results in the silting up of rivers, thereby reducing their water-holding capacity. When a rain arrive or snows melt, the water spills over and floods adjoining areas, causing as great devastation as a drought.
In Kerala State (India), it was observed that overexplitation of groundwater in several Grama Panchayat Blocks reported to be so vulnerable and acute.
Plachimad in Kerala is the first village in the world attracts attention in the name of overexploitation of ground water by a multinational company. In Kerala it was noted that water the level of table in certain districts found to lowered by 0.3 to 0.5 feet per year.
A study in Kerala conducted by the Kerala Pollution Control Board in association with the SEU on the bacteriological quality of dug wells in Kerala observed that “water in none of the open dug wells investigated is of drinking water quality standards” as prescribed by Bureau of India Standard. Since Kerala is the only place in the world having highest density of open dug well (250 per sq.km) and 50% of population used this as the only source of water for drinking.
In this situation, the Government of Kerala along with other stakeholders including NGOs, take stock of the situation in order to mitigate the acute shortage of drinking water.
Kerala State in India
Government of Kerala, NGOs, FANSA-Kerala Chapter
The programme is in progress as per the schedule
Rules amended by the Government of Kerala on Rainwater harvesting in all new constructions.
Following are the conditions directed by the Government of Kerala:-
1. Rooftop Rain Water Harvesting Arrangements.- (1) Unless otherwise stipulated specifically in a town Planning Scheme, workable rooftop rainwater harvesting arrangements shall be provided as an integral part of all new building constructions.
2) The components of workable rooftop rainwater harvesting arrangement are stipulated.
3) The minimum capacity of the storage rank stipulated in Sub-rule (2) (v) of the rooftop rainwater harvesting.
4) The municipality shall enforce workable artificial ground water recharging arrangements as an integral part of all new building constructions through collection of roof top rainwater.
5) The component of workable artificial ground water recharging arrangements as stipulated in sub rule (4) above, shall include:
i) Roof catchment area
ii) Roof gutters
iii) Down pipe
iv) Filter unit
v) Recharge well/percolation pi
6) Wherever rooftop rainwater harvesting arrangements as stipulated in sub rules (1) to (3) above are provided, additional arrangements for carrying the spill over water from storage tank to recharge well or percolation pit need only be provided
7) The owner(s)/occupier(s) shall maintain the rooftop rainwater harvesting arrangements and artificial ground water recharge arrangements in healthy working condition
8) The Municipality may, in exceptional cases such as water logging or impermeable subsoil conditions to considerable depths, exempt construction from he mandatory groundwater recharging arrangements”.
Steps have been initiated by Central Ground Water Authority. Following are the regulatory measures :-
- The Central Ground Water Authority is regulating withdrawal of ground water by industries/ projects in 839 Over-exploited and 226 Critical Assessment Units. List of these critical areas has been circulated to the State Pollution Control Boards and Ministry of Environment & Forests which refer the new industries/ projects to CGWA for obtaining permission.
- CGWA has notified 43 critical/ overexploited areas in parts of NCT Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, MP, Gujarat, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Diu for control and regulation of development of ground water resources. For enforcement of the regulatory measures in these areas, concerned Deputy Commissioners/ District Magistrates have been directed under Section 5 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to regulate ground water development in these notified areas.
- Construction of new ground water structures is prohibited in the notified areas. Permission of drilling tubewells is being granted only to the Govt. agencies responsible for drinking water supply.
- CGWA has notified 65 areas in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat NCT Delhi and Uttar Pradesh warranting urgent action for registration of existing ground water extraction structures. Based on the data thus generated, action for notifying these areas for regulation has been initiated.
- Ground water legislation :To enable the States to enact Ground Water Legislation, a Model Bill to Regulate and Control Development of Ground Water has been circulated by the Ministry of Water Resources to all the States/UTs. So far the states of Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Union Territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry have enacted and implemented ground water legislation.
Strict regulation by the Governement of Kerala and Central Groundwater Authority found to be effective and sustainable. Overexploitation of groundwater found to be limited and restricted. Recharge of rainwater found to be improved and lowering of water table observed to be minimized in certain regions based on the data obtained from observatory wells.
Monitoring of groundwater table carried out by CGWB and other stakeholders.
Rainwater harvsting/recharge and water conservation is a mass movement by all including the active involvement Government. More and more villages are now under this programme and subsidies will be provided by the Government.
Strict Legislation and guidelines on rainwater harvesting is an important component on the successful and sustainable implementation of programme.
The programme will continue with adequate modification
Kerala Kavya Kala Sahadi (KKKS) ,
Darsana, Kurakar Gardens, Karickom P.O., Kottarakara, Kerala, India. Mob: 91-9447559495 ; E-mail: email@example.com