March 12, 2010 12:30:32 am
Mining of silica sand,quartzite and other construction material in Faridabad has resulted in massive damage to the regions fragile ecology,especially groundwater.
The effect on groundwater regime can be gauged from the findings of a Central Ground Water Board study,conducted by scientists Sanjay Marwaha,Sanjay Pandey and Shalinder Singh,which says that after mining stopped in 2002 on the Supreme Court order,some of the areas witnessed an increase in water level.
Claiming the stoppage of mining activity has had a positive impact in the region,Marwaha said the areas where mining activity was concentrated witnessed a rise of 1 to 8 metres in groundwater levels between 2003 and 2008 after the activity was stopped,despite the fact that rainfall during the same period was below normal.
A lot of damage that has been done is,however,irreparable,Marwaha added. Residents of the area depend solely on groundwater for drinking and farming needs due to lack of canal and irrigation systems,so its recharge has to be quicker than the extraction,he said.
Talking of the unscientific manner in which mining had been carried out,he stated in his report that there were more than 40 sites that had been dug up randomly. In case silica was not found,these pits were abandoned,exposing the groundwater and leading to evaporation of the already low water table,Marwaha added. The scientists also observed that over large areas that had been dug up below the water level,the pits have converted into lakes,causing evaporation losses.
Notably,the areas showing a rise in water levels were located near the closed pits,it stated.
Shalinder Singh said water usually seeps through natural cracks in the rocks,recharging the water table. But as these rocks have now been removed by miners,the natural recharge method has been disturbed, he added.
The natural drainage pattern has also been altered. Singh said the miners had blocked seasonal nullahs by dumping waste material,affecting farmlands in the valleys of Aravalli Hills.
Mining of silica sand was mainly carried out below the water table. During 2001-02,extraction of silica sand,ordinary sand and stone was 0.21,9.47 and 6.48 million metric tonnes respectively,the study states.
Suggesting measures to maintain ecological balance,the study has recommended that mining activity should be restricted to 3 metre above the water table. As evaporation loss of 8.86 lakh cubic metre of groundwater was occurring each year,the pits should be filled with locally available material. An action plan should be drafted,pressing for the adoption of various rainwater harvesting methods,it proposed.
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