Friday, April 5, 2013

A pipe dream turns real!


The Indian state of Rajasthan is famous for its dry and arid climate. Great Indian or Thar desert is actually a part of this state, where the weather is obviously like any other desert of the world. Yet, even in other parts of the state, it is quite common to see desert like landscapes consisting of sun parched brownish lands, sand dunes, small thorny shrubs, lots and lots of dust due to extremely scanty rainfall. The weather in Rajasthan also happens to touch both extremes. In the hot sultry summers, dust storms are fairly common and in winter, a visitor can expect severe cold weather with biting strong winds, again very typical of a desert weather.

Surveys carried out by remote sensing satellites have found out that the water table in Rajasthan is continuously sliding down, to lower and lower levels with the rate of fall of about one foot per year. This naturally affects the weather. In 2012, most of the state got slightly deficient rains, which have affected the crops. It is expected that there would be slight fall in crop production. To have enough water for daily use is a pipe dream for many a Rajasthani people.

Jodhpur happens to be one of the famous cities from this state. This city is many times called as 'Sun city' because of the abundant sun light that falls on this city. It has many tourist attractions such as the Jodhpur fort and palaces and is always crowded with tourists most times of the year. Any traveller, who wants to visit this place would be naturally expecting severe desert weather and general shortage of water here for sure.

Most surprisingly, water table levels in Jodhpur are actually on the rise. Groundwater is coming up at the rate of 4 to 5 feet every year. The water table today is only 2.4 meters below the ground level. Jodhpur residents now say ; “Dig a tube well and get a lake.” In Jodhpur's 'Kunjbihari temple,' the marble flooring of the temple is now always submerged below 2 or 3 inches of water. Near the edges of the marble tiles, one can observe small fountains sprouting little jets of water. The houses and shops, that have basements, have to pump out water collected in basements every day. A footwear shop owner says that if he stops pumping out water, the basement would be about 1.5 meter under water within a day. When there are power outages, the store suffers immediate losses. 


Never in its long history, Jodhpur had such plenty of water around. The city dwellers always talk about a myth that when the Maharaja had broken ground for his new Mehrangarh fort in 1459, he showed disrespect to an ascetic and asked that he be thrown out. The ascetic, angry with the treatment received from Maharaja, had cursed the Maharaja, that he would always have a drought in his kingdom. Whether due to this curse or by the geographical reasons, the fact is that Jodhpur has always faced water shortages. Jodhpur's abundance of ground water when surrounding areas are suffering from water shortages, has become a favourite subject for research now. 


Prof. Bhavanishankar Paliwal is the head of Geology in Jodhpur's 'Jai Narayan Vyas University.' He gives two reasons for Jodhpur's abundant ground water. The first reason for this excess water is the 'Rajasthan Canal System' built by Government of India in this region. This canal diverts and carries out excess water of rivers in Punjab towards Rajasthan. All the farmers now use canal water for agriculture purposes and have stopped pumping out ground waters. The second most important reason is the shape of geographical contour on which Jodhpur sits. The ground under Jodhpur is shaped like a dish with the result that all the under ground water from surrounding regions actually rushes towards the city. Since there is no other way for this water to flow, it is just rising up. 


Jodhpur local Government is in a real dilemma now regarding how to utilize this excess water. The city gardens are being supplied with extra water. There is a plan to pump out excess ground water to areas on outskirts, where water shortages exist. However no one knows, when these plans would be exucuted. Right now they are experiencing a rarest of rare occurrence for Rajasthan; abundant availability of water. Rajasthai people are known for their scanty use of water resources, because water simple does not exist. Same Rajasthani people in Jodhpur are now even using water in wasteful and extravagant ways.

5 April 2013

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