The Groundwater Surveys and Development Agency (GSDA) has already painted a grim picture of depleting groundwater levels with 200 more villages registering a dip. Now, concretisation of roads in the city ahead of the monsoon is likely to make percolation even more difficult, depleting the water levels further. A recent GSDA survey listed 543 villages in the district with water-level depletion against 342 villages last year.
“Percolation of water in the city has reduced to 5-7 per cent with road concretisation works. Though municipal corporations are doing it to ensure pothole-free roads, it is environmentally very harmful to the already water-parched district,” said Col S G Dalvi (retd), district manager of The Climate Reality Project in Pune. Founded by former US Vice President and environmentalist Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project works in the field of climate change.
With crores of rupees being allocated for this work and corporators putting their best foot forward ahead of an election year, the cemented structures will only further lead to depletion of groundwater levels, the organisation has observed.
Earlier, the percolation was about 35 per cent, Dalvi said. Giving an assessment for different areas, Dalvi said the groundwater levels had gone down in most areas in the face of rapid urbanisation and digging of borewells. Earlier, in areas like Vishrantwadi, groundwater could be accessed at 150-200 ft. Now, that figure is around 300 ft. Law College Road and Prabhat Road never had problems with groundwater before but with digging of borewells, the water level has dipped 50-75 ft below what it used to be.
Dalvi shared records of this rapid decline in groundwater levels. “At Sahakar Nagar, we used to get water at 50-60 ft earlier. But now, one has to go deeper than even 150 ft to reach the water table. Even Baner residents are constantly complaining of borewells drying up with rapid concretisation projects.”
“What has happened is the water table has gone even below the submersible pump. If the water used is not replenished through rainwater harvesting, the groundwater levels are going to be dangerously low and we can already see that,” he said, stressing that groundwater exploitation in India was the highest in the world and unsustainable.
At Viman Nagar too, the water level has dipped 100 ft below what it used to be, the reasons being more societies tapping into the water sources along with lesser percolation. “It’s the same story for Baner,” Dalvi said.
Experts from GSDA said if there was end-to-end concretisation, it would definitely cause problems. “There are things called weep holes, where the water goes into, that help in seepage. However, over the years, such weep holes have reduced drastically. The few that are there get clogged whenever it rains due to plastic waste, causing flash floods,” a scientist said.