Over the past three months, residents of Atta Gujaran, a village with a population of around 5,000 near the Gautam Budh Nagar-Haryana border, have had to dig 20 new deep tube wells, some about 130 metres deep. The wells, previously dug to about 90 m, hardly have any water, according to villagers.
At the primary school in Gharbara village on the Yamuna floodplains, two hand pumps stand dry. To provide drinking water to its 250 students, the school has recently dug up a deep tube well that reaches 130m into the ground.
Water stress is, in fact, increasing in Greater Noida — not just for domestic usage but also for farmers who claim that irrigation has become a big challenge.
Experts claim that the drop in water level will in the long-term also determine what crops would possibly grow in the fields. “Over extraction of water from the ground water aquifers near the Yamuna means that the toxic water of the river will sink down to fill in the void created by the extraction — so by extracting ground water from the Yamuna belt, people are making a huge mistake,” said Manoj Mishra of the Yamuna Monitoring Committee,. Villages falling in the Jewar block are complaining of water shortage. These villages are Gharbara, Jaganpur, Afzalpur, Murshedpur, Atta Gujran, Naurangpur, Gunpura, Sallharpur, Atta Fatehpur, Chuharpur and Chappadgarh.
The problem, claim locals, is because of the massive dewatering of groundwater that has taken place in the area for construction, and also powerful groundwater extraction taking place on the banks of the Yamuna on the Haryana side.
Giant pump houses, established along the Yamuna banks in the Haryana belt that extract from a 90-metre-deep aquifer into the ground and draw water for supplying to the residences in the city dot the banks of the river. The impact of this extraction is being felt by farmers on both sides of the river.
“When they created these, we had no idea that they would turn our fields dry. The water of the Yamuna is toxic and of no use for the crops. We are in dire straits,” said Mangal Singh, a 72-year-old farmer of Manjhawali village.
A Gurgaon-Greater Noida flyway is under construction over the stretch of the Yamuna. On the Greater Noida side, the first village is Atta Gujran
“The giant pumps are pulling all Greater Noida water away. The water we are getting from the ground is smelly. Just recently old tube wells have been shut and new deep ones have been installed,” said Gazab Singh, a resident of the neighbouring Jaganpur village.
“Inadequate recharge has started impacting the aquifers. Greater Noida is highly stressed already. It is worrisome because such a lot of development is taking place at this time. We will investigate the deep boring issue on the Yamuna belt as well,” said Rahul Dev of the UP ground water department.
“There are two explanations: first, the rapid dewatering of ground aquifers for creation of foundation and basement of high rise apartments in the vicinity and second, high-powered borewells on the bank of Yamuna in Haryana across the Yamuna bank.” Vikrant Tongad, environmentalist, said.
According to the reports of the groundwater department of Gautam Budh Nagar, the average depletion in Greater Noida is about 1.5 metre per year. In Greater Noida, at least five spots where water levels are tested annually, have gone dry over a period of six years.