Monday, August 11, 2008

Groundwater business thriving sans regulation -Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

Groundwater business thriving sans regulation -Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
BANGALORE: Acute surface water shortage and inept supply agencies are fuelling a boom in non-regulated groundwater markets in the state. The dependence on groundwater has risen to 51%, 30% and 37% in Hubli, Dharwad and Belgaum respectively. Kolar almost entirely depends on groundwater, while the sampled ward in Bangalore - covering areas like Nagarbhavi and Chandra Layout - had 873 tubewells in an area of just 2.9 sq km. In the ward, inequity and depleting groundwater tables are key concerns.

A new study, 'Urban water supply services : Case studies of five cities in Karnataka' , by K V Raju, S Manasi and Latha N of the Centre for Ecological Economics and Natural Resources, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) sampled the cities of Hubli-Dharwad , Belgaum, Kolar and Ward No. 39 of Bangalore city. About 7,300 households were surveyed and 756 groundwater samples analyzed.

The levels of dependence on groundwater are reflected in the borewell business which has an annual turnover of Rs 50 crore in Hubli, Dharwad and Belgaum. Bagepalli taluk in Kolar tops the list with a Rs 12 crore turnover.

The proposed state policy to regulate borewells is still being worked upon. "Since there's no regulation for digging of borewells, these businesses are posing major threats to water tables. In places like Kolar, borewell water samples showed high levels of contamination ,'' said Manasi.

Modest estimates show that more than 2,000 borewells have been drilled in Dharwad, while in Hubli, the figure is over 5,000. The groundwater markets, along with the businesses of tankers, borewell drillers, packaged drinking water and accessories like pumps and storage gadgets add to the boom.

The demand of water in Hubli and Dharwad is 90 MLD (million litres per day) and 45.16 MLD respectively. The agencies supply about 25.6 MLD and 19.2 MLD, exclusive of the 40% of the unaccounted-for water. Groundwater (9 MLD in Hubli and 3 MLD in Dharwad) is also supplied. In Kolar, there is a nearly 40% gap between supply and demand. Researchers found that in Belgaum, the issues are more management-related .

In Hubli, Dharwad and Belgaum, 42%, 45% and 22% of samples analyzed were classified as non-potable . In Kolar, the figure is a startling 97%. The city registered high levels of fluoride and nitrate contamination.

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