Groundwater extraction at some villages in Purandar taluka of Pune district, which has been designated for the proposed Pune international airport, has reached ‘critical’ levels. Some villages here have been termed ‘unfit’ for further groundwater extraction, a report released by the Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (GSDA) has stated.
The GSDA has prepared hydrogeological reports under the Atal Bhujal Yojana for select districts and talukas of Maharashtra. Also known as Atal Jal, this Rs 6,000 crore scheme is partly funded by the World Bank.
The scheme was implemented last year in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. These states were chosen in the pilot phase after it was found that the groundwater table in these states were fast depleting in recent years. Atal Jal will be implemented over the next five years and is expected to benefit about 8,350 gram panchayats in 78 districts across India.
The GSDA has studied Indapur, Baramati and Purandar talukas from Pune district. These three talukas are among the most water stressed regions in western Maharashtra and were selected for special monitoring on the basis of their past groundwater extraction viz-a-viz the annual rainfall, cropping and irrigation pattern and natural geography.
While Baramati and Indapur talukas remain under the ‘semi-critical’ category, Purandar has already extracted about 91 per cent of its total extractable groundwater. This leaves the taluka with only 1,946.14 hectare metre of groundwater remaining for its future use. Purandar is also where the proposed international airport for Pune is proposed to come up, a site survey for which is currently underway.
Annually, India receives about 400 million hectare metre water — mostly contributed by rainfall and partly by snowfall.
Purandar, which records an annual rainfall of 687.78 mm, the current groundwater extraction is 11,359.84 ha.m out of an annual extractable groundwater of 12,474.96 ha.m. The report has identified Walhe village to have most unfit deep wells, hand pumps and other modes used for groundwater extraction for consecutive years.
Though Indapur records the highest annual rainfall — of about 879mm, among these three talukas, it is home to the highest number of villages with ‘unfit’ sources traced between 2016 – 2020, the GSDA survey report found. These villages include Varkute, Sarathi, Rui, Reda, Kazad and Hingangaon. Out of the annual extractable groundwater reserve of 29,190.30 ha.m, Indapur has extracted about 77.21 per cent of its natural groundwater reserves.
Baramati, composed of hard basaltic rock as like the rest two talukas, has extracted about 86. 85 per cent of its groundwater reserves. Baburdi village has been earmarked and found to possess ‘unfit’ groundwater extracting sources consecutively since 2018.
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