Groundwater depletion in Lucknow: Three R mantra can turn the table - Hindustan Times
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Groundwater depletion in Lucknow: Three R mantra can turn the table

Jun 13, 2024 05:08 AM IST

There is need to recharge, reclaim and rejuvenate water bodies for proper maintenance of groundwater table for future generations, along with balanced urbanization with sustainability, suggest environmentalists

LUCKNOW As the urban landscape of Lucknow continues to expand, the city faces a pressing need to address the depletion of its groundwater resources. Environmentalists have called for a comprehensive strategy to revive lost ponds, lakes, and water bodies while protecting the existing ones.

Officials have been asked to ensure restoration and beautification of Motijheel at Aishbagh in Lucknow. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)
Officials have been asked to ensure restoration and beautification of Motijheel at Aishbagh in Lucknow. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)

Only balanced urbanization with sustainability, besides collective efforts to recharge groundwater, preserve water bodies, and foster a culture of conservation can guarantee proper maintenance of groundwater table for the future generations. And the work cannot be complete without engaging citizens, improving policy implementation, and adopting innovative water management practices. Reviving Lucknow’s water heritage is not just an environmental necessity, but a vital step towards ensuring the well-being of future generations, said experts.

They said even if 40% of Lucknow’s annual rainfall is used to recharge aquifers, the problem of groundwater depletion would not exist. Besides, green cover in the city needs to be enhanced.

“We need to have multipronged approach to address the challenge of depleting groundwater levels in the city. Currently, the city is getting concretised, leaving no space for trees and water bodies. If even 40% of rainwater is saved for underground water aquifers, there would be no problem for future generations,” said Prof Dhruv Sen of Lucknow University.

REVIVING WATER BODIES AND PARKS

It’s essential to revive lost lakes, ponds and water bodies. These water bodies, once the lifeblood of the city, have suffered from neglect and encroachment. Revitalizing them is not just about restoring their beauty, but also about ensuring the city’s sustainability. Additionally, there is a strong push for better city parks designed in harmony with natural water recharge capacities. These green spaces can serve as urban lungs and recharge centres, crucial for maintaining groundwater levels.

FOREST COVER AND WATER HARVESTING

Increasing forestation and green cover is another critical strategy. Recently, the Lucknow Municipal Corporation has developed two Miyawaki forests in the city and is in the process of developing five more. Trees play a vital role in maintaining the water cycle and preventing soil erosion. Wherever developed, Miyawaki forests have helped in arresting the pace of groundwater depletion. Alongside this, the concept of water harvesting parks must be promoted. City parks must be designed to capture and store rainwater, ensuring it percolates into the ground rather than running off and being wasted in drains.

RAISING AWARENESS

Public awareness campaigns are essential in fostering a culture of water conservation and reuse for activities like car washing, household works and gardening. Citizens need to understand the importance of preserving water bodies and the benefits of practices like water harvesting.

MINIMISING CONCRETISATION

Concrete areas, which could serve as open recharge centres, should be minimised to enhance natural water absorption. Rules should be formulated to keep at least 40% open spaces in new urban planning for water recharging, which can be promoted by planting trees, planning artificial lakes and water bodies. This will not only ensure water recharge but also enhance the beauty of area, said environmentalists.

ENGAGING CITIZENS AND STAKEHOLDERS

Engaging citizens and involving stakeholders in water conservation efforts is crucial. Collaborative actions between residents, government bodies, resident welfare association and private institutions can drive meaningful change. Better coordination between town planning departments, local communities, and environmental organizations can lead to more effective policy implementation and resource management.

POLICY IMPLEMENTATION

Effective policy implementation is key to saving water bodies and preventing water wastage. The UP Ground Water (Management and Regulation) Act, 2019, must be strictly enforced to protect, conserve, control, and regulate groundwater resources. Besides, the creation and maintenance of open spaces and parks, as well as incentives for water-saving technologies and practices, can make a significant impact.

Divisional commissioner Roshan Jacob said, “The government is aware of water table depletion. Thats why we are working on the revival of Kukrail river, which would act as the biggest water reservoir and water charging body of the city in the days to come. We have engaged ‘Lake Man of India’ Anand Malligavad for developing the green river front on Kukrail river. Besides, other lakes and ponds would be revived.”

Malligavan said, “Revival of Kukrail river will guarantee good water recharge and will solve 30% of the groundwater table depletion problem. But I am also working on the revival of other ponds in the city like Haiwatmau, Sautal, etc. These water bodies, if preserved, will guarantee good recharge of water table. Besides, rooftop water harvesting is going to be promoted in the city, like in Bengaluru. Out of 750 lakes and ponds, we have revived 35, and they are going to make a difference in the days to come.”

SOLUTIONS FOR A BETTER FUTURE

MIYAWAKI FORESTS IN CITY

*The LMC has developed two Miyawaki forests in the city and is in the process of developing five more. Trees play a vital role in maintaining the water cycle and preventing soil erosion.

OPEN SPACES

* Rules should be formulated to keep at least 40% open spaces in new urban planning for water recharging, which can be promoted by planting trees, planning artificial lakes and water bodies.

LAW ENFORCEMENT

* The UP Ground Water (Management and Regulation) Act, 2019, must be strictly enforced to protect, conserve, control, and regulate groundwater resources.

WATER BODIES

* Water bodies, once the lifeblood of the city, have suffered from neglect and encroachment. Revitalizing them is not just about restoring their beauty, but also about ensuring the city’s sustainability.

STAKEHOLDERS

* Better coordination between town planning departments, local communities, and environmental organizations can lead to more effective policy implementation and resource management.

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