The Public Works Department’s (PWD) inability to provide sufficient water to the Verna Industrial Estate has resulted in severe stress on the groundwater resources in the area. Water extraction through bore wells continues unabated in the industrial estate and this has taken a toll on the Kesarval spring situated near the industrial estate.
The Water Resource Department is currently conducting a study as part of the hydrology project II, a World Bank initiative, to study the spring and its possible revival. Highly placed sources in the Water Resource Department, on condition of anonymity, said that under the hydrology project the department is currently monitoring the area around the Kesarval spring and trying to evaluate the aquifer parameters of the spring.
The source said the study will be completed by December 2011 under the aegis of the World Bank. After the study is complete, the department will study possibilities of artificially recharging the aquifers to revive the spring. Over the years, the water flow from the spring has come down due to heavy industrialisation in the area and overdependence of the industrial units on the groundwater, which has resulted in the spring drying up, according to the Water Resources Department official. He said that the department is also studying other springs in the state.
The water resource department official said that the PWD is not providing even one million litre per day (MLD) of water to the industrial estate when the industry requirement is around 10 mld. As a result, most of the units in the industrial estate have dug up bore wells and are extracting ground water to meet their requirement.
The official said there is no record of the quantity of water that has been flowing from the spring over the years. The WRD’s study includes evaluation of the impact of groundwater pumping at Verna plateau on springs, irrigation tanks and wells located in the area, besides evaluating efficiency, effectiveness and benefit of rainwater harvesting and groundwater augmentation.
The PWD Minister, Mr Churchill Alemao has, however, categorically denied the claims that the PWD is not providing sufficient water to the 400-odd units in the industrial estate. He stated that the PWD is providing enough water to both, domestic customers as well as the industrial estate. Mr Alemao said there is sufficient water at the Selaulim dam, which is provided to everybody including the industrial units. He further said the department has a proposal to use the old pipeline from the Selaulim dam to provide raw water to the industries, however, the proposal is pending before the Chief Minister, Mr Digambar Kamat. Once the file gets the Chief Minister’s nod, the old pipeline will be utilised to supply water directly to the industrial units. Interestingly, the Goa Industrial Development Corporation also has a proposal to take a direct raw water pipeline from Selaulim to Verna to provide water to the industries and even treating the same if required.
The chairman of the GIDC, Mr Chandrakant Kavlekar said that the proposal to get a direct pipeline from Selaulim to Verna to provide raw water to industries will cost the Corporation Rs 40 crore. Mr Kavlekar said the proposal is being discussed and will be put up before the board meeting as the Corporation will have to study the modalities of setting up the pipeline. He said after the Corporation got the nod from the government to go ahead with the proposal, the GIDC had asked the Water Resource Department to prepare the estimate, which has been handed over recently to the Corporation. Mr Kavlekar said that the PWD’s failure to provide sufficient water to the industrial estate had prompted the GIDC to come up with the proposal.
The GIDC chairman said the industry requires around 5 mld of water, however, the PWD is providing just .80 mld of water. He said the GIDC is also looking at other options to provide water and has set up a massive rainwater harvesting project at the Verna Industrial Estate. He said the project cost Rs 2.42 crore of which Rs 2.12 crore was paid by GIDC and the rest by the environment ministry and pollution control board. Admitting that most of the industrial units depended on ground water for their water requirement, Mr Kavlekar said hopefully the water harvesting project will help in replenishing the ground water table.
According to Mr A Fernandes (79) from Quelossim, “In my younger years we used to go often to the spring which had a splendid flow even in the summer months, however, over the years as the industrial units have been set up, the flow has reduced and now what is left is a meagre trickle. Industrialisation has also taken its toll on the wells in the village, besides affecting the ponds and other water bodies.”