Groundwater in BangaloreDecember 6, 2009
|There is no comprehensive legal or institutional framework for managing groundwater and prevent the digging of borewells in the city|
Out of control: Borewells are being sunk without any restrictions
Borewells are everywhere in India and have become the lifeline for water. In Bangalore alone, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board records the presence of about 100,000 borewells. Other estimates suggest that the city may have 400,000 borewells pumping out water to the tune of 100 million litres to 400 million litres per day. In any case new borewells are being dug by the hundreds every year all over the country.
New technologies for drilling are constantly emerging and borewells can now be dug to depths of 1,500 feet. The diameter of the drill also ranges from four-and-a-half inches 10 inches. Hydraulic drilling rigs make it possible to drill very fast and a drilling job can be completed in 10 to 12 hours’ time. Installing a pump usually requires two to four hours.
Typically a yield test should be done to optimise the selection of the appropriate pump and a water and energy-efficient pump which is maintenance free should be selected.
There is no comprehensive legal or institutional framework for managing groundwater in our city. Since the BWSSB manages piped water for the city and levies a Rs. 50 monthly sanitary cess on borewells, it is best placed to become the regulatory authority for groundwater. It can begin by insisting that all borewells in the city should be registered with it, not only those where it has given a water or sanitary connection. It can then begin a process of metering groundwater and charging on a volumetric basis rather than a flat rate. This will enable a better understanding of the volume of water being drawn from the aquifers.
There is no law currently which prevents the digging of borewells anywhere in the city. There is also currently no stipulation of any minimum distance between borewells. There is no law against the noise pollution created by borewells and their drilling at any time of night or day. The understanding of structural or other damage to adjacent buildings is limited. We need to insure from these risks in a comprehensive manner.
Maintaining a log of the successful and unsuccessful borewells, metering and measuring drawal on a monthly basis, keeping a log of the energy consumed per kilo-litre of water drawn, drawing up a maintenance schedule for the pumps, keeping regular track of water quality and ensuring recharge commensurate with drawal is the best way to go for apartments and layouts. A social ban on individual borewells, metered supply of water through common borewells, a tariff collection regime to ensure rainwater harvesting and recharge throughout the campus to ensure zero runoff of storm water is part of the best practices recommended for borewells.