Level of underground water is fast receding, and high rises are digging deeper to extract more, and using ROs to make that water potable. But it's a crisis in the making, and just a matter of time when we run out of this life-giving force.
Cape Town in South Africa is very likely to run out of water by April this year — Day Zero is the day when almost all the taps in the city will be turned off and people will have to line up for water. Cut to India, the Gujarat government appealed to farmers to not grow any crops this summer. Why? Narmada does not have enough supply for farming — there will be no irrigation supply from March 15.
No, this is not some apocalyptic science fiction trending on screens!
In Ghaziabad, high-rise residents are worried too. The level of underground water is fast receding, and there’s not enough Ganga water supply. As societies dig deeper for water — just a little more — a crisis deepens. It’s ticking bomb — and what’s happening in the distant city of Cape Town could be a truth closer home than we are ready to admit, or believe.
Alok Kumar, president of FedAOA, and a resident of Arihant Harmony Apartment in Ahinsa Khand II of Indirapuram, explains that in the absence of a potent water supply system from the government these societies are mostly reliant on underground water and consider it their lifeline — and this has caused a dip in the ground water levels.
VK Pandey, the manager of Alok’s society, draws a grim picture.
According to him, the ground water level has fallen by over 40 ft over the span of just two years. “The borewell of our society is around 200 ft. Initially, we had inserted extraction pipes to only 100 ft. However, with the receding water levels, the pipes had to be re-inserted twice with an additional depth of 20 ft each time. The water level now stands at 140 ft deep,” he says.
Mohit Dwivedi, president of Krishna Apra Garden Society in Vaibhav Khand area of Indirapuram, shares a similar story. In his words, “My society now draws water at 180 ft deep — only a year back, it was 150 ft deep. Things are going to get worse.”
Referring to the current scarcity of irrigation water in Gujarat and the unreal situation in Cape Town, he warns, “The problem is real — and not that far away! We must act.”
Gaur Global Village, a society in Crossings Republik, also increased the depth of its boring pipe just two months back. “The depth of our society borewell society was around 110 ft for the last few years, and we recently increased the depth by another 10 ft, as the water level receded,” explains Akhilesh Kumar, maintenance manager of the society.
The FedAOA pegs the average daily water requirement of one flat at 1,000 litres. And thus, the daily requirement of a society with 1,000 flats comes to 10 lakh litres!
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) recommends the acceptable levels of total dissolved solids (TDS) of drinkable water at 500 milligrams per litre (mg/l). The BIS recommends another permissible higher limit of TDS at 2,000mg/l in the absence of alternate water source. However, according to managements of these societies, the TDS levels of the extracted ground water ranges from 800-900mg/l to over 3,000mg/l, with the levels shooting during the summers.
“This leads to the extensive use of RO (Reverse Osmosis) filtering systems at homes. Almost every household is equipped with an RO water filtering system, which wastes a lot of water,” Kumar says.
According to Akash Vashishtha, a Ghaziabad-based environmentalist who had approached the NGT to check ground water extraction, said RO systems generate around 4-5 litres of “waste water” while creating just a litre of potable water, and the waste water can also be considered as polluting effluent.
He further pointed out that there is disparity in the already insufficient Ganga water supply. “While some areas of Ghaziabad rely entirely on Ganga water supply for all household requirements, some areas do not have sufficient supply. Areas concentrated with high rises have insufficient Ganga supply, which forces them to rely on ground water. Ganga water is better in quality than groundwater, and its supply should be limited to kitchen use only,” he added.
The township currently has four UGRs with a combined water storage capacity of 36,000 kilo liters and eight over-head tanks with combined storage capacity of 24,000 kilo liters. Two more UGRs of 5,000 kilo litres each are planned for the township. The Ghaziabad Development Authority has approved a fund of around Rs 20 crore for bettering the sewerage connection and Ganga water supply in Indirapuram.
Can only planned infrastructure mitigate the crisis? Have we done enough — or even a little — to stop water wastage at individual level? These are difficult questions, but then, these are difficult times.