With growing depletion of ground water levels in the city, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) had set a target of 2026 for completely stopping the use of groundwater and moving to the Narmada water supply.
However, in a surprising move that goes against this commitment, the municipal body has approved tenders worth Rs 8.5 crore for new borewells in the last six months, which is going to put a huge burden on the already limited groundwater resources.
Not withstanding the word of caution from the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) to curtail the city’s dependence on wells due to environmental concerns, AMC says one reason for sinking borewells is that the population of the city has reached 72 lakhs, and it needs to supply 1,725 million litres per day (MLD) of treated drinking water to them, up from 1,500 MLD currently.
“We use groundwater only in emergencies, but plan to end this dependence by 2026,” a senior AMC official said. The AMC will commission 24 new pumping stations, for which an additional supply of 125 MLD will be required,” said the official.
AMC has been criticised for its decision to draw the additional water requirement from borewells even though it has the capacity to treat and deliver 1,725 MLD of water. The AMC, in turn, defended its decision saying it will only make borewells operational in areas where there are pressure problems and will close them once the issues are resolved.
It also said it will seal 598 borewells by 2026. In July, AMC approved 21 more borewells at a cost of Rs 6.49 crore and in October it approved a contract to dig borewells at a cost of Rs 2 crore for its parks.
The CGWB issued notices to AMC in February for not getting no objection certificates (NOCs) for its borewells. It was ordered to apply for the board’s approval of all its 598 borewells.
AMC said it was trying to obtain these NOCs. CGWB and the Institute of Seismic Research also warned that over-exploitation of groundwater can cause a fall in the water table, land subsidence and salinity ingress.
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