CHANDIGARH DID not figure in any of the 254 cities and Union Territories that were judged on the basis of their progress in the Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA), a flagship programme of the Centre. The campaign is underway and this progress judged pertains to the period till July 29, 2019.
Chandigarh is among those water-stressed cities which has the worst groundwater depletion.
To encourage the states and districts to focus on Jal Shakti Abhiyan, the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation had launched the district rankings based on the progress achieved during the campaign. The ranking was meant to assess the performance of districts against five intervention areas, special interventions and people’s participation.
Six Union Territories and several Haryana and Punjab’s districts were also part of the 254 cities.
Districts like Haryana’s Mahendargarh and Kurukshetra ranked 13th and 16th while Punjab’s Sangrur ranked 24th. Haryana’s Jind was also on 22nd rank. Mahaboobnagar from Telangana topped the chart with the highest score of 89.96.
Senior officers of the Chandigarh Administration did not comment on it when asked why the city’s name doesn’t figure on the list of 254 cities that has all Union Territories as well.
Chief Conservator of Forest Debendra Dalai specified that whatever work a city does on this count has to be uploaded online daily.
“Yes, I agree cities were to be judged on five parameters. But if a city is doing something but not uploading online daily, then also it won’t be considered. As far as I know, there is an online format where progress needs to be uploaded on a daily basis. However, my part was just the afforestation one and we planted 60,000 saplings against the targeted 25,000 saplings,” Dalai told Chandigarh Newsline.
Seventy per cent marks were related to programme which included water conservation and harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies/tanks, reuse of borewell recharge structures, watershed development and intensive afforestation.
Twenty per cent marks were for special intervention that included block and strict conservation plan and outcome intervention had 10 per cent marks.
Block-level scores were to be calculated based on progress reported against five intervention areas. The highest score by any block/district against progress reported under each indicator was to be given full marks. All other blocks/districts were to get score in proportion of progress made with respect to the highest score against that indicator.
Special indicators measured the progress under special interventions and people’s participation at district level.
Vinod Vashisht, president of Government Houses Residents’ Welfare Association of Sector 22, said: “It is a matter of shame and introspection for Chandigarh to be only UT/State of India which didn’t figure in the Jal Shakti Abhiyan Ranking 2019. Being unsuccessful doesn’t mean failure.”
Chandigarh among water-stressed cities
Larger depletion of water had been observed in states/UTs like Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand.
The report by the ministry had stated that groundwater levels in various parts of the country were declining because of continuous withdrawal due to reasons such as increased demand for fresh water for various uses, vagaries of rainfall, increased population, industrialisation & urbanisation etc. The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) carries out groundwater monitoring four times a year in different states.
In order to assess the declining/rising trend in water level on a long-term basis, pre-monsoon water level data 2018 had been compared with the decadal average (2008-2017) water level. Analysis of data indicates decline in groundwater level in about 52 per cent of the wells monitored.
In Chandigarh’s details, it was specified that of the wells analysed, 78 per cent showed fall in water level while 22 per cent showed a rise.
After its intensive campaign for water conservation, Chandigarh is hoping that it will improve its groundwater level. The administration in the last one month has been carrying out activities to encourage people to save water. A competition has also been organised for schoolchildren where innovative ideas to conserve water will be awarded.
The administration is considering making rainwater harvesting and double supply lines mandatory in big houses, complexes, apartments and colonies. An action plan regarding the same has been prepared and the agenda will be placed before the next advisory council meeting.