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Did you know there is a water crisis? | Auroville | India | Auroras Eye Films

Gilles Boulicot a water expert in Auroville, gives a presentation about the water crisis.

Groundwater levels all over India are fast declining and aquifers in coastal regions are turning saline. Mr. R.Chakrapaani, Regional Director Central Ground Water Board, Tamil Nadu, sketched the dire state of affairs in Tamil Nadu. The available surface water resources have almost completely been harvested. Ground water is now the major source for domestic, industrial and irrigation requirements. As shallow wells have become defunct in many areas due to declining water levels and low yields, tube wells that reach into the deep aquifers have become the most common means of water extraction. However, water tables are dropping at such an alarming pace that the status of the ground water resources in Tamil Nadu’s 385 administrative blocks has become a cause of concern. Eight blocks have turned saline, more than 100 blocks are over-exploited, around 200 blocks are listed as critical or semi-critical and less than 70 blocks are considered safe. As for the main causes for the present state affairs, Chakrapaani mentioned the population explosion and the consequent environmental impacts; industrial, urban and agricultural pollution; destruction of traditional water harvesting systems like tanks and ponds; and the free power which is being supplied for agricultural purposes. Water scarcity has led to loss of livelihood, irreversible socio-economic changes and population migration to urban areas. Tamil Nadu is now taking measures on all levels – government, industry, NGO’s and self-help groups – to stem the tide. Amongst the most affected cities is the Chennai metropolis, home to more than 6 million people. It now imports water from the groundwater rich Neyveli basin, an area of approximately 3000 sq.kms located 200 kilometres south of Chennai in the Cuddalore district. Chennai is also planning a big desalination plant.

The status of the groundwater situation in Pondicherry is not better than in Tamil Nadu. Mr. V. Radhakrishnan of Pondicherry ‘s Department of Agriculture explained that this small Union Territory has an estimated 35 million cubic metres (MCM) of surface water and 150 MCM of groundwater. However, the requirement exceeds the availability by more than 20%. Pondicherry ‘s observation wells have shown that the groundwater level has dropped in coastal areas up to 12 metres, inland up to 55 metres. Radhakrishnan listed lack of surface water irrigation, mismanagement of surface water bodies and neglect of runoff as the main causes for this state of affairs. “ Pondicherry has become almost completely dependent on groundwater and this is being over-extracted. Intrusion of seawater into the groundwater has been observed up to 4 kilometres inland in the southern parts of the state, 2 kilometres inland in the city and 1 kilometre in the northern side.”

Post Series: India
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