In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (GSDA) is planning to undertake a detailed survey of the state’s groundwater table and track the changes over a period of last 40 years.
The move is pertinent at a time when the state is reeling under severe water crisis and effective management of water resources, including the groundwater reserves, holds the key.
Mapping of wells will be taken up in at least one village in every taluka of each of the 36 districts in the state.
“The survey will trace the changes that the groundwater table has undergone over the last four decades. The district-level mapping will help in understanding and planning effective usage of these reserves. We will also be in a better position to suggest crop to be cultivated based on these variations which is one of the key aspects in the proposed groundwater bill,” said Kaushtubh Diwegaonkar, director, GSDA.
According to GSDA experts, there are groundwater reserves amounting to 30 billion cubic metre (BCM) available, spread and unevenly distributed across the the state. Of this, reserves equivalent to a maximum of 15 BCM can be extracted for drinking, irrigation or other purposes together.
Some initial observation has suggested that the demand for groundwater jumped during the decade from 1985 to 1995 and thereafter, the demand has been rising even though the available reserves has remained stagnant.
The main challenge for Maharashtra, where a very large geographical area in occupied by hard basaltic rock, is that the seepage of water is limited. Moreover, areas of Madhya Maharashtra and Marathwada fall under the rain shadow region, that is the annual rainfall availability is much lesser than some other regions.
“As a result, the groundwater recharge and its movement to other parts is very difficult,” said a GSDA official.
In yet another move to strengthen the network of wells, the agency plans to increase the total number of wells tracked by at least 10 times. “We will be soon covering 31,000 wells in the state, which will be monitored for the groundwater tables,” said the GSDA director. Until now, the network comprised of 3,192 wells in Maharashtra.