MWRRA to conduct groundwater assessment for urban areas
Deshmukh said, “Since there is no Groundwater Act, we are not able to take any steps to stop the tanker lobby or fine them as they are extracting groundwater on a large scale.”
PUNE: No data has been collected by any government body regarding the groundwater table in urban areas till date. However, after receiving several RTI queries from residents of Mumbai and Pune about the groundwater table and illegal extraction of groundwater, the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) has decided to carry out a groundwater assessment report for urban areas.
Kishor Deshmukh, Assistant Director of Groundwater, MWRRA, told Sakal Times that there is groundwater assessment report of rural areas, but there is no survey or report for urban areas of Maharashtra.
The main reason for not carrying out any groundwater assessment survey in urban areas is because firstly, there is no Groundwater Act and secondly, there is no census of wells or recharge points of urban areas of the State.
Deshmukh said, “Since there is no Groundwater Act, we are not able to take any steps to stop the tanker lobby or fine them as they are extracting groundwater on a large scale. Luckily, the draft of Groundwater Act has been finalised and it’s waiting to get notified in the Assembly. Several amendments can be made once the Act is released.”
Milind Deshpande, Regional Deputy Director of Groundwater Survey Development Agency (GSDA) said, “After receiving several RTI queries from residents of Pune and Mumbai, the urban groundwater assessment was initialised and it will be further amended after the Act is passed.”
“This is important as the tanker lobby in fringe areas of the city has increased over time and there is no way to find out the available groundwater of the city,” Deshpande added.
Himanshu Kulkarni, Executive Director of Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM), said, “It is an encouraging note for the apex body of groundwater to take the decision of doing a groundwater assessment for urban areas of the State. But one thing is not clear as to why an Act is necessary to make amendments for the groundwater assessments for urban areas.”
Ravindra Sinha, convenor of Mission Groundwater, said, “The Groundwater Act was notified in 2009, but their rules and regulations are in the process. It is mandatory to keep updated information about the groundwater table of urban areas because the cities are expanding and groundwater is being extracted in huge amount. Technology should be used to measure its contamination and level of groundwater.”