Water level depleting, Gurgaon looks to set up its own jal board

Rapid urbanisation has led to a huge increase in Gurgaon's water demand, and as a result, the city's groundwater levels have dropped at an alarming rate of 1.12 m per year. Keeping the city's growing water- and sewage-related problems, government authorities have suggested establishment of an agency similar to the Delhi Jal Board.

Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), one of the authorities responsible for water supply in New Gurgaon, has been involved with rainwater harvesting projects but concedes that a separate body is required to deal with the issue.

Praveen Kumar, HUDA Administrator, said: "I have spoken with my senior officers from the government and there is an acceptance that Gurgaon requires a jal board. HUDA alone cannot handle all spheres of activity and water crisis in the city is an important issue. We have a canal, sewage treatment plant as well as a policy of zero discharge on new sectors. We have been able to deal with the current situation, but in the next 20 years, the situation will become worse."

Nitya Jacob, Programme Director (Water) at the Centre for Science and Environment, said: "In 1995, Gurgaon's water table stood at 30 metres. In 2010, it has dropped between 60 and 100 metres. The city does not have natural water bodies."

Groundwater accounts for around 70 per cent of Gurgaon's water supply. A 2007 order by the Punjab and Haryana High Court that banned digging borewells and groundwater extraction has been flouted many a time.

Gurgaon had over 30,000 tubewells drawing an estimated 70-230 million litres of ground-water per day in 2011. By 2021, with an estimated population of 3.7 million, the water demand would go up to 666 million litres per day, according to a CSE study.

Shubhra Puri, founder of Gurgaon First, a citizens' group, said: "There is a need for a separate water body in Gurgaon depletion of groundwater needs to be arrested through stringent measures. There is inadequate coordination among departments of Irrigation and Public Health, HUDA and municipal bodies controlling water supply."

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