‘Water tables in state fell by 20m each decade’

AHMEDABAD: With the shadow of severe looming over the state and no Narmada irrigation water for summer crops, farmers are looking downwards for groundwater, rather than upwards praying for an early monsoon. However, the situation below the surface seems equally grim, as in most places the has dropped to such depths that drawing out groundwater has become an expensive, if not impossible option.
A recent study conducted by the office of (CGWB) reveals the bitter truth, and the fact that on an average, since 1974, water tables in north and central Gujarat have been dropping at a rate close to 20m per decade.

Experts point out that in many regions the overexploitation of groundwater stores which are hunderes of years old, may leave nothing for the next generations if adequate steps are not taken today.

The study encompasses major aquifers in the region spanning from Banaskantha in north to parts of Patan, Sabarkantha, Mehsana, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad districts. According to the experts, the water-starved region is also the most important region for the groundwater availability as it consists of sand and gravel with lenses of sandy clay and clay — ranging in thickness from 35 to 125 metres.

CGWB analyzed observation well readings of four distinct periods – 1958-62, 1961-62, 1970-71 and 1971-74 – to compare with the reading of 2017-18 to assess the depletion over the past 60 years. “Groundwater which was at shallow depth (maximum of 46.8 metres in Charasan in 1971-74) and even in free flowing condition in several places in Banaskantha, Mehsana and Patan districts from 1958 to 1974, have now reached down to a depth of 54 to 160 metres in Banaskantha, 81 to 168 metres in Mehsana and 83 to 146 metres in Patan districts,” said a senior CGWB official. Officials point at Pilwai where experts had reading of 17.75 metres below ground level (mbgl) in 1971-74 which went down to 165 mbgl in 2017-18, recording a decrease of 147.25 mbgl. Likewise, Mahi in Banaskantha has reported decrease of 140 mbgl and Sardhao in Gandhinagar has reported decrease of 137 mbgl.

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