Groundwater levels increase 12 feet in Bihar

Drought-prone Gaya district, which faced the worst water crisis in 2019, recorded the highest spike 

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Friday 17 April 2020
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic, Bihar has some good news — groundwater levels in the state increased by 12 feet in 2020 from 1 feet in 2019 — according to a survey report conducted by the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED).

The report was prepared on the basis of official data from the state's 38 districts till March 31, 2020.

“We collected groundwater data from all districts and reviewed them before preparing a report. It indicated increased groundwater level in comparison to last year,” the report said.

Drought-prone Gaya district, which faced the worst water crisis in 2019, recorded the highest spike in groundwater level — it increased to 25.6 feet from 38.5 feet.

Water level in river Falgu decreased nearly 60 feet in 2019, according to a PHED official. This forced authorities to shut down pumping stations and water supply centres.

The lowest increase was recorded in the flood-prone Samastipur and Muzaffarpur districts. In Muzaffarpur, the level increased to 20.10 feet in 2020 from 21 feet last year.

Timely rains in post-monsoon season — in December 2019, January and February — and untimely heavy rains in March 2020, contributed to the increase in groundwater level, Abdus Sattar, a climate change expert said.

Bihar received 31.6 millimetre rain from March 1-14 — much higher than 3.2 mm during the same period last year, said a scientist at the state meteorological department. The state recorded 15.6 mm rain on March 12 alone.

Gaya recorded highest rainfall (43.1 mm), followed by Rohtas (27.8 mm), Sabour (20.1 mm), Patna (16.7 mm) and Bhagalpur (16 mm) on March 13, according to meteorological department officer Ravinder Kumar.

Heavy rains also damaged paddy crops in mid-December 2019. Farmers demanded compensation from the state government, but they are yet to receive any assurance.

 “After facing the worst water crisis last summer, the Bihar government launched Jal Jeevan Hariyali to revive old water bodies including ponds, ahar pynes and wells. Increase in the groundwater levels is result of that,” state public health engineering minister Vinod Narayan Jha told DTE.

Jha said it remained to be seen whether present groundwater levels will sustain through summers.

He added the government is fully prepared to tide over drinking water crisis this year. “Hand pumps dried up in flood-prone northern districts last year. Water bodies, too, dried up. But we are prepared for any situation this year,” he said.

Two months ago, the groundwater levels dipped in 11 of the state’s 38 districts despite a good monsoon in 2019.

According to a telemetry report released by minor water resources department in February, Katihar district reported groundwater level dipped to 25 feet, followed by Begusarai (24 feet) and Gaya (21 feet).

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