Vrindavan, 2017.02.02 (VT): The groundwater in the several parts of Vrindavan has gone down by nearly 10 feet since last November. According to experts and environmentalists, the cause of the depleting water table is sheet piling, which is being executed under the Yamuna Riverfront Development Project by the Irrigation department of Uttar Pradesh. Metal sheets have been inserted 25 feet deep inside the ground in a two-kilometer area in front of the heritage ghats of Vrindavan.
Yamuna River has been the major source to recharge the ground water of the holy city. The town is surrounded by the river on three sides. The percolation recharge of Vrindavan’s ground water is determined by the water level of Yamuna. The execution of sheet piling has negatively impacted the water level of the city.
Depletion of the water table may hit city very hard, as the city’s water supply is largely dependent on tube wells bored on the bank of Yamuna. The ground water level in various parts of Vrindavan is declining, as the aquifers of the water table can’t adequately be recharged due to the civil work along the river.
The ground water of the town is mainly used for drinking water needs of the population, which has been growing over the years. Likewise, many aquifers, especially those that don’t have abundant recharge, are affected by the amount of water being pumped out of local wells. There are 50 to 60 tube wells operating in Vrindavan.
“Groundwater decline has become a real and serious problem in Vrindavan. Although a large number of tube wells were dug by the municipality to provide water to the residents, still it hasn’t taken any steps to conserve the water,” said Shri B.L. Upadhyay, a resident of the Cheer Ghat locality of Vrindavan.
Mrs. Charchita Rangacharya, from the Rangji Mandir alleged that the large scale construction activity in Vrindavan and on its Yamuna bank has forced the ground water depletion. She said, “There is no doubt that the Riverfront Development Project has caused a great damage to the catchment areas of Yamuna. The sheet piling activity is one of the reason behind the falling of the water table. There are fourteen wells and a water tank (kund), in our temple. The water supply for all the rituals of the temple is largely dependent on the water of the wells and the kund. We have seen a drastic fall of water levels in our water reservoirs. The bore wells in many parts of the city dried up even before the onset of summer.”
“The town’s bore wells are pumping out muddy water. Sometimes it brings out black water, as if it is pumping from a sewage drain. It is going to be very difficult during summer, as the water is getting contaminated due to decline of the ground water,” said a municipal pump operator, not wanting to be named.
Acharya Naresh Narayan, a senior member of Braj Vrindavan Heritage Alliance said, “The floodplains have been the self-recharging and self-sustaining aquifer for the city water. The illegal dumping of debris and construction rubble, and the extension of settlements on the flood plain are the reason for the ground water not being adequately recharged. Now, the sheet piling activity has sounded the death knell for the potable water supply of the temple town.”
It should be noted that the National Green Tribunal and the Allahabad High Court have stayed the project, but the civil work done on the river bed has already harmed the fragile ecology of Vrindavan.