Hyderabad: Depletion of the groundwater table in a majority of mandals in the state has set alarm bells ringing, as it could lead to severe drinking water crisis in March.
Deficit rainfall for two consecutive years and round-the-clock power supply to farmers are factors influencing depletion of groundwater levels. Officials claimed that 70 per cent of agriculture is based on groundwater (tube wells).
Despite most mandals receiving abnormal rainfall, the farmers have been drawing groundwater through about 22.5 lakh pump sets across the state. Groundwater levels are depleting at the rate of 0.25m every month and if this continues, the state could face severe drinking water crisis from March, which even the Telangana state government’s flagship Mission Bhagiratha cannot help.
Groundwater levels have dipped in around 70 per cent of mandals because of scanty rainfall. Officials said that out of 31 districts only 13 districts have received normal rain and the rest received deficit rain. The state received 699mm of rain against the normal of 845mm.
According to the Telangana state government’s executive summary report, out of 584 mandals in the state, 27 have received excess rain (20per cent or more), 204 mandals received deficit rain (20 per cent to -59 per cent) and 13 mandals received scanty rainfall (above -59 per cent).
During December 2018, as many as 1,248 wells were monitored across the state where maximum depth varied from 0.20m below ground level to 61.17m below ground level (m bgl).
The groundwater levels in 37 per cent of the state varied between five to 10 m bgl. The groundwater levels below 20 m bgl covered nine per cent of the state (68 mandals). On an average, groundwater level has depleted 0.25m since November and same continued in December.
A senior official from the groundwater department said 24x7 power supply to farmers and deficit rain badly hit the groundwater levels in the state. He said with water levels in the Krishna and Godavari river basins depleting at an alarming pace, depletion of groundwater levels was a cause of grave concern and would lead to severe drinking water crisis. Besides, if water was further drawn for irrigation, about 70 per cent of borewells would dry up by end of March.
He said the water crisis would worsen in 204 deficit rainfall mandals in districts like Hyderabad, Medak, Nalgonda, Warangal, Siddipet, Vikarabad, Sangareddy, Rajanna-Siricilla, Kamareddy, Mahbubnagar and others. The official said that the situation has already worsened in 13 mandals which received scanty rainfall.