Water-stressed in India: Officials claim Hapur water table has risen due to JSA

UP district was among 10 worst perfomers in water conservation work

By Rashmi Verma
Published: Thursday 19 March 2020

One may think Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur would have water aplenty as the Ganga flows through the district. But three of its four blocks have been marked for ‘critically low’ levels of groundwater by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB). It ranked 197th among 255 such districts in terms of water-conservation works under the Union government's Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA). 

The district scored a mere 12.7 percentage in water conservation work.

Some of the JSA activities, however, may work. Post-JSA, in six months, there was a 1.5-2 metre rise in the water table, claimed district groundwater board officials. 

These include renovation of ponds and water bodies, soak pits to reuse grey water and construction of rainwater-harvesting structures, said district development officer Sanjay Kumar.

Projects were taken up across all 280 gram panchayats in the district, claimed Suraj Pal, executive engineer, Hapur block.

“In Hapur block alone, 65 rainwater-harvesting structures have been constructed in all government schools for Rs 1.5 lakh each,” Pal said. Apart from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, funds were also pulled in from the Sarva Shikhsa Abhiyan.

More than 100 ponds were renovated in the block and soak pits were constructed to manage overflow from hand pumps, he added.

“Currently, around 80 per cent hand pumps in the block have soak pits,” Pal added.

According to the CGWB data, the water table increased by 1.5 to 2 metres following JSA, said Pal.

In Simroli gram panchayat, however, districts officials claimed that only one pond was rejuvenated. Local residents told Down to Earth that wastewater collected in the pond.

“The block gets regular supply of electricity and all villagers have submersible motors. The extracted water is wasted as overhead tanks are missing and people usually forget to switch off pumps when they are not using them. This creates wastewater, which fills the pond,” said Sachendra Singh, a resident.

Residents of Tattarpur gram panchayat were happy with JSA work.

According to Vandana Verma, a primary school teacher, block officials helped augment rainwater and wastewater management in July 2019 there. The block now has rainwater recharge well that is connected to all rooftops and soak pits near the hand pump.

“Earlier, rainwater would collect in the low-lying areas of the school playground. The entire area remained water-logged for long. The wastewater from the hand pumps was an issue. This served as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. But things have improved now,” she added.

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