Pune: To avoid over-extraction of groundwater, Groundwater Surveys and Development Agency (GSDA) will hold a registration drive of all borewells in the State. Maharashtra will be the first such state to conduct this drive.
While sharing this information, Shekhar Gaikwad, Director of GSDA, said, “There has not been any census of borewells used for irrigation purpose. The number of borewells for drinking water and dug wells is known to the government.
“The State Groundwater Authority will publish a notice mentioning the programme and procedure for registration of all the wells, using print and electronic media and directing all owners of the existing wells in the notified and non-notified areas to register their wells. Every owner of the well shall, within 180 days from the date of the publication of the notice in the print media, apply to the District Authority as defined in the Act or its designated officer for registration of his/her well in Form I. The urban borewells registration will also come in this part.”
“The Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, which is the State groundwater authority, will allow the people to dig wells up to 60 metres only and if they want to dig more than 60 metres, which shall be only for drinking purpose, then they have to seek the permission of the technical officers and district authorities. Permission will not be given to the farmers to drill borewells more than 60-metres-deep for irrigation purpose,” Gaikwad said.
Irfan Shah, Additional Director of GSDA, said, “We have divided the area of Maharashtra into 1,531 watersheds. The individual watersheds are up to 200 sq km, which is 20,000 hectares. And in that 20,000 hectare area, there are 104 watersheds, which fall into semicritical category. The exploitation of groundwater is nearly 75 to 80 per cent. And it is on the way towards exploited watersheds. Also, we have recently calculated that there are 75 watersheds, which are overexploited.”
“The 74 watersheds have been notified. And if anyone’s borewell is more than 60-metres-deep, then the person has to pay tax for it, which has been fixed by the Irrigation Department. We will implement the rule and regulation mentioned in the GR to conserve the water and on the other hand, we have to control the exploitation of groundwater as well,” Shah said.
Shah further explained that it has been proved by the assessment from 1981 to 2018 that there is a limit for the recharge in hard rock. “In Maharashtra, with the help of recharge structure, we can increase the quantum of water by about 5 to 7 per cent, but with the help of the demand side management, we can increase it up to 50 per cent. We have to avoid the use of groundwater as much a possible,” said Gaikwad.
“We have made the provision by this act and rule in Maharashtra after its implementation from September onwards. For the first 6 months, we will register all the wells and borewells in the area and then we will come to know with the help of this how much the quantum of wells are there and the number of borewells as well,” Gaikwad said.
Gaikwad also added, “We are collecting the figures for the assessment of dug wells from the Revenue Department. So with the help of this registration, we have made it mandatory for the public. The exact number of existing wells, its mechanism, crop pattern and draft of groundwater from that well will be publicly displayed as well.”
Shah further stated, “Right now, nobody is drilling a borewell for recharge. Everybody is drilling it for extraction of groundwater. The government has made it mandatory for the people to construct rooftop rainwater harvesting structures. We will go about it scientifically, which type of structure is fitted for artificial recharge.”
“There should be control over the exploitation of groundwater. Comparing the rainfall, our requirement is less than one per cent, but we are not getting it. The domestic requirement is less than one per cent. The rate of recharge is slow. One can accelerate but one cannot increase it. One cannot change the habits of the rocks, and the rate of recharge is fixed. We are also in talks with the smart city officials, even they will be constructing roads where the groundwater level will not be high,” Shah added.