In Ropar, illegal mining takes toll on groundwater

ROPAR: While the Centre has initiated the “Jal Shakti Abhiyan” for water conservation across the country on July 1, the illegal mining has already played havoc with the water table in the district, with the riverbed being dug up to more than 40 feet.

In Ropar, illegal mining takes toll on groundwater

Gurbachan Singh of Bhanua village shows his tubewell that was abandoned after the water level went down. Tribune photo

editorial@tribune.com

Arun Sharma

Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 14

While the Centre has initiated the “Jal Shakti Abhiyan” for water conservation across the country on July 1, the illegal mining has already played havoc with the water table in the district, with the riverbed being dug up to more than 40 feet.

If the experts are to be believed, the unchecked digging up of the riverbed in the district has not only resulted in the depletion of water table in the adjoining areas, but also in groundwater pollution.

Officials in the Agriculture Department said such complaints had increased manifold since the mining had been noticed in the rivers, especially in the Sutlej, during the last decade. Though water was found at 5 to 8 feet in villages on the river banks, now farmers are digging up new borewells up to a depth of more than 40 feet.

Harpal Singh of Sangatpur village said he got a borewell dug up to irrigate his fields two decades ago when the water level was 8 feet only. He said things moved smoothly till a decade ago, when the mining activity increased in the adjoining Sutlej and the water table started depleting gradually and it touched to 30 feet a few years ago, forcing a majority of farmers to dig up new borewells.

Bhag Singh of Saidpur village said when he got a tubewell set up in the village a few years ago, water was at 25 feet. Soon, it went to 40 feet and he had to spend thousands to get a new borewell, he added.

Gurbachan Singh of Bhanua village near the Khera Kalmot mining area said almost every farmer in their village had to dug up a new borewell as the water level went down to more than 25 feet, which used to be 15 feet, and just 7 to 8 feet during monsoon.

The experts in the Agriculture Department confirmed the concerns of farmers. Geologist Jaswant Singh said though no survey was conducted in this regard, farmers could be believed as earlier the riverbed was dug up to 10 feet and groundwater recharged through it used to maintain high levels in adjoining villages. “When a riverbed is dug up to 40 feet, water recharge starts from the same depth, leading to groundwater depletion. This has even led to groundwater pollution.”

Jaspal said the digging up of the riverbed to such deep levels also punctured the acquifer (underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock) due to which one could notice groundwater emerging at mining spots. “The groundwater at such spots was run off with the river water, leading to further depletion. Moreover, the river water entering through the punctured acquifer polluted the groundwater,” he added.

Plays havoc with water table 

  • Illegal mining has played havoc with the water table in the district, with the riverbed being dug up to more than 40 feet. 
  • Experts are of the opinion that the unchecked digging of the riverbed in the district has not only resulted in the depletion of water table in the adjoining areas but also in groundwater pollution.

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