After almost facing depletion of groundwater, the residents of Keralaâ€™s Kasaragod breathe a sigh of relief as the district administration has announced that the groundwater levels in the district have risen. District Collector Sajith Babu said in a statement that water levels in wells in Kasargod and neighbouring Manjeshwaram have increased by almost nine metres, as a result of scientific water conservation methods.
These measures include the construction of temporary check dams and reviving streams over the past two years. The district administration said that they have launched several inter-department conservation projects in the district. The rise in groundwater levels was studied by observing 67 open borewells in six blocks of the district from May 2019 to May 2021. Through this exercise, the authorities observed the nine-metre rise, they said. The study was conducted as part of the Jal Shakti Abhiyan under the Union Ministry of Water Resources.
In Manjeshwaram, the groundwater increased up to nine metres in open wells and six metres in borewells. "Uncontrolled usage of groundwater, sloping terrain which doesnâ€™t hold the rain water, laterite stone areas which doesn't allow rainwater enter below the ground and human interventions that destroyed the balance of the environment, which resulted in temperature rise have been assessed as the reasons of groundwater depletion by Central Jalasakthi Mission. Flattening mountains also badly affects rainwater storage," District Collector Sajith Babu said on Facebook.
Apart from constructing check dams and reviving streams, the measures taken to improve water conservation included rainwater harvesting, construction of watersheds and recharging of wells.
Read : How Kerala farmers are reviving the age-old practice of 'kattas' check dams
Earlier, TNM had reported on the severity of the groundwater shortage in the district. A study by the Groundwater Estimation Committee (GEC) under the Union Ministry of Water Resources, conducted in 2017 and published in 2019, says that in the six blocks of the district, Kasaragod block had extracted 97.68% of groundwater already. The block had been categorised as â€˜criticalâ€™. Kanhangad, Karadka and Manjeshwaram blocks were categorised as â€˜semi-criticalâ€™. Kanhangad (77.67 % extraction) and Karadka (82% extraction) were safe zones in 2013, but by 2017 their condition had deteriorated to â€˜semi-criticalâ€™. The extraction in Manjeshwaram block was 83.96%.
Kasargod district has the highest number of borewells in the state, which is the highest means of groundwater extraction. The GEC study also states that groundwater availability for future use is 5,176 HaM, which is the lowest in the state.
In July 2019, Ashok Kumar Singh, a Union government delegate who reached the district to review the situation, said that Kasaragod was among the 255 districts in the country that faced severe drinking water shortage. Palakkad was another district from Kerala on the list.