AGRA || With the groundwater level declining rapidly, an unprecedented water crisis is staring at Agra, the Taj city that draws millions of tourists every year and houses an even higher number. Despite the good rains during the monsoon, the main reason for the decline in groundwater level is the inability to store rainwater due to lack of ponds and wells.
According to official figures, in India, in the year 1947, the number of ponds was about 24 lakhs. Currently, there are about 5 lakh ponds left, of which about 25% of the ponds are going to lose their original existence due to piles and polythene piles and drought. Even in the city villages, the ponds are lined with polythene and plastic.
In Uttar Pradesh alone, 68 thousand ponds and wells have ceased to exist since independence, due to which the underlying cause is encroachment and they have been filled with garbage. One thousand water sources are getting depleted every year in Uttar Pradesh.
If we talk about district Agra, there are 3687 ponds in the area of 990.703 square hectares. Out of which 2825 ponds originally survived are in serious crisis and 59 ponds have completely ceased to exist, including the ponds of important places in the city. As a result, Agra’s geological water level is declining from 30 cm to one meter every year.
Due to which groundwater has reached the third strata (90–150 m). Four thousand RO plants and four lakh submersible pumps have also made double whammy on geological water. If pollution stops in Yamuna and water in other dry rivers improves some situation.
Agra district has a network of seven major rivers in which only the Yamuna and Chambal rivers have water, but the existence of Parvati, Khari, Utangan, Wainganga and Kivad rivers are in complete danger. If the water is released by digging these rivers, then the geological water level of Agra can be prevented from falling. At present, out of 15 blocks of Agra, 13 blocks except Jaitpur and Pinahat block are in Dark or Critical Zone.
Out of a total of 92 drains in the Yamuna of Agra, the dirty water of 61 falls directly into the river Yamuna. 216 MLD sewage is falling in the untreated Yamuna from these drains. About 61% of the sewage falling directly into the Yamuna is increasing pollution in the river.
According to the UPPCB report, in May 2020, the average quantity of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the Yamuna River was 7.4 mg. 9.2 mg per litre, Bio-Oxygen Demand (BOD). The average amount per litre and total coliform (human and animal waste) is 52000 MNP per litre.
Which is higher than the standard set. In a sample taken from river Yamuna near Taj Mahal, the total coliform (human and animal waste) amounts to 79000 MNP per litre, which is extremely deadly. This will increase drastically with the end of the lockdown.
— KP Singh/Agra
(The author is an eminent environmentalist and President of the Biodiversity Research And Development Society)