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Sunday 23 April 2000

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Ahmedabad
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`Central Banaskantha to lose ground water in 2-3 yrs'

The Times of India News Service

PALANPUR: The entire central zone of Banaskantha district faces the grim prospect of having no access to the ground water as the present level has touched the rock bottom making any further digging impossible.

According to a recent survey conducted by the water level investigating team, the central zone of the district would lose access to ground water if corrective measures were not taken immediately. The central zone is spread over an area of 900 sq km of rocky ground and has an estimated population of six to seven lakh. Ground water has in the past helped the district tide over successive droughts.

In a letter jointly signed by the leaders of the district, Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has been urged to immediately initiate corrective measures. The leaders have also threatened to launch a stir.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a geologist claims that the rocky belt starts from Amirgadh near Abu Road and goes up to Sidhpur. At some places the ground water is at 140 feet while at others it can drop to 200 feet. He says irregular rainfall, two severe droughts and the unabated pumping of water for irrigation have left little water in the catchment areas. The negligible recharging of water has left wells empty at several places.

Chairman of the civic body Mogra warns that if this process continues, the region will not be able to tackle the drought situation and migration would be the only way out for the locals.

A member of the Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board adds the rocky ground water level in the eastern part of the district is very low and its essential to use water carefully. Constant pumping has depleted water reserves in the absence of regular recharging and the situation is very serious, he said. The member felt if natural recharging was not feasible, it should done with the help of artificial sources. And if even that is not possible, he said, "We should just wait for dooms day".

The survey points out that lack of awareness among the people, fast vanishing forests and the desire to make a fast buck have left the whole region waterless.

It says the western talukas of Santalpur, Vav, Tharad, Radhanpur and Kankrej have low water levels but even then the same can be utilised although the extract is likely to be saline and have fluoride contents. The report warns that digging beyond 200 feet is not feasible.

The study reveals after every severe drought, at least five to 10 consecutive good monsoon rains are required to recharge the water levels. But in the present case, heavy pumping throughout the year has led to a greater fall in the water level then regular draughts. As a result, it says, the underground current has ceased to flow or its velocity has reduced considerably.

The study says that only a miracle can save the area now as the present ground water would not last more than two to three years.

Kumbhasan sarpanch Shivrambhai Patel feels that recharging is possible by releasing water from the Dantiwada dam that is about 25 km from here. The process is easy and economical. He says that a united effort might force the state government to release water from the dam.

A former professor of geology of the M S University P P Patel maintains that interlinking the Dharoi, Mukteshwar, Sipu and Dantiwada dams and rising the grid in the affected area could be a lasting solution to the problem.

MLA and civic body president Rekhaben Dwivedi, however, maintains that the state government has recently sanctioned Rs 20 crore for ensuring water supply to the town from the Dharoi dam.

Congress MLA from Danta Mukesh Gadhvi says, "God alone knows when the Dharoi dam would provide water but at present about 100 villages scattered over the hills are facing acute shortage. The villages have no roads and the residents have to trek two to three km every day to get water."



The Economic Times


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