Depleting groundwater levels a concern for Telangana ahead of summer 

As the summer approaches, concerns about depleting groundwater levels across the state have escalated. Despite a 6 per cent increase in rainfall compared to last year, the average groundwater depth has fallen by 1.50 meters. In one month, the groundwater level was depleted from 6.8 meters below ground level (mbgl) to 7.72 mbgl. 

Disturbingly, only four districts in the state have groundwater levels below 5 meters, while 25 districts have levels at 10 meters or above. The root cause lies in the failure of the Congress government in releasing water to the projects as expected, coupled with inadequate filling of tanks and check dams compared to the previous years.

In the Krishna basin, the situation is particularly dire this year. The key projects like Srisailam and Nagarjuna Sagar are nearing dead storage, prompting officials to advise against planting crops in Yasangi.

The Godavari basin, equipped with the Kaleshwaram project since 2019, has also witnessed a surprising decline in groundwater levels this year. The government’s decision to withhold water under the pretext of Medigadda damage has led to the neglect of essential projects like SRSP, Yellampalli, Nizamsagar, Singur, Upper Manair, Lower Manair, Kadem, and others.

Last May, the groundwater situation was completely different. Out of 33 districts, groundwater was available in 24 districts at a depth of 5-10 meters, eight at 10-15 meters, and one at over 15 meters. This year’s alarming trend is a stark departure from the previous government’s efforts, which successfully filled tanks and check dams. 

The decline in groundwater levels can be attributed to various factors, including insufficient water supply to projects in the Krishna basin, the non-filling of tanks in the Godavari basin, and inadequate water supply through canals. It is essential to recognize the crucial role played by tanks, canals, projects, and check dams in elevating groundwater levels. Typically, over 10 percent of groundwater recharge occurs through canals and tanks.

The absence of water supply through these channels has left the agricultural community entirely reliant on groundwater. Consequently, boreholes are continuously pumping water, accelerating the decline in the state’s groundwater levels compared to previous years.

Sources of groundwater recharge
Rainfall – 35%
Projects – 31%
Borewells – 13%
Check dams and others – 10%
Tanks and others – 7%
Canals – 4%
Others – 0.2%