Valley towards groundwater crisis

KATHMANDU: Cocking a snook at the acute water crisis, groundwater extraction is rampant in the Kathmandu Valley. 
Though the Valley requires around 220 million litres of water daily, the supply is pegged at half of that — approximately 100 million litres.

Nir Shakya, senior divisional hydro-geologist, Groundwater Resources Development Board, elaborated on the reasons behind the excessive reliance on groundwater. “The civic authorities have to rely on this to cater to 50 per cent of the Valley’s demand,” he said. A study, conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency in 1990, revealed the Valley’s groundwater extraction capacity is only up to 15 million litres per day. The data did not include the high-consuming star hotels and comfort homes. 

Pro-Public, an NGO, filed a case in the Supreme Court against the government on June 6, 2003. 
Prakash Mani Sharma, the brain behind the plea, stood by his legal move. “The Water Resources Act, 1992, states that license is mandatory for extracting groundwater save for domestic consumption,” he explained. 
On July 9, 2008, the apex court ordered the government to submit a detail study report on the pattern of the use of the groundwater in the Valley. 

In response, the government formed a technical committee, headed by Jivan Lal Shrestha, executive director, Ground Water Resource Development Board. The government will submit the panel’s report to the Supreme Court on 
October 17. While preparing the report, the committee has stumbled upon a technical flaw in the Water Resources Act, 1992. “The law, inexplicably, doesn’t specify who is the rightful authority to determine the use of groundwater in the country,” reasoned Shrestha. 

Sharma blamed the star hospitality addresses and big housing projects for the depletion of groundwater resources. “None of these commercial establishments are paying a single penny as water tax,” he alleged. The draft of the report also dwells upon the phenomenal increase in the use of both deep and shallow tube-wells. The groundwater cannot be replenished due to proliferation of the concrete jungle in the Valley. “Our study has revealed that 0.7-1.7 metre of groundwater table has been dwindling annually. This is an alarming trend. The Valley is becoming more prone to subsidence,” explained Shrestha.

Source: The Himalayan Times 28th August, 2009

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