UNLIKE THE rest of Maharashtra, monsoon rains for Pune over the last three years have been more or less assured. Yet in the above time period, the district has reported sharp increase in depletion of groundwater with more than 200 villages getting affected in an adverse way (>1m). Even in areas where rainfall (up to 20 per cent) is assured, there are warning signs of record depletion of ground water, worrying planners and environmentalists.
The Groundwater Survey and Development Authority (GSDA) comes out with a scarcity report that maps the groundwater level for across the state. Reports for the last three years show that in Pune the number of villages which have reported depletion of ground water has been on the rise, with the present year showing a steep rise of over 100 villages.
In 2013, the GSDA’s survey showed that 39 villages had reported depletion of groundwater. Spread across the talukas of Baramati, Indpur, Khed and Purandhar, only 1 village in Purandar taluka had reported depletion of over 3 m while most of the other villages had recorded depletion of either 2-3 m or 1-2 m. No depletion was reported in areas of assured rainfall. The monsoon has been good in Pune with none of the talukas reporting any deficiency in rainfall.
Of the 13 talukas in the district, just six had reported rainfall deficiency during the monsoon of 2014. Last year, 120 villages had reported groundwater depletion spread across the six talukas. Of these, 80 villages were in talukas which had no deficiency in rainfall, while 32 villages were in talukas which had reported rainfall deficiency between 0 and 20 per cent, and 8 villages were in areas where rainfall deficiency was recorded of more than 20 per cent.
Like the rest of Maharashtra, monsoon has been weak for Pune this year with 342 villages reporting ground water depletion. Of these, 45 villages were in talukas with no deficiency in rainfall, 15 villages in talukas where the rainfall deficiency is between 0 and 20 per cent. A record 282 villages are in talukas where the rainfall deficiency is more than 20 per cent.
According to Suresh Khandale, additional director of GSDA, “One of the major reasons for depletion is the inability of the groundwater to replenish itself even in areas of assured rainfall.””In most cases the groundwater is accessed for cultivation through bore wells and no enough time is allowed for it to recharge”” he said.