EDITORIAL: Alarming decline

In order to supply adequate water to the people of the valley, other sources of water than groundwater should be tapped

Experts had pointed out from time to time that the groundwater level had been going down in the Kathmandu Valley as a result of the drying up of the sources of water and over-exploitation of groundwater through various methods, such as the digging up of wells and boring of deep tube wells and shallow tube wells to increase water supply for the ever-increasing population.

This problem has been made worse by the burgeoning industries and high-rise buildings. Not only private water supplying companies but even the government-owned water offices are drawing up water through the boring technique.

A recent report prepared by the Groundwater Resource Development Board comes up with findings that show how much the water table has gone down in four places in the valley over a period of just a few years.

A fall of eight metres of the groundwater level was measured in Pepsicola area from 2008 to 2013 AD.

The other areas surveyed are Lubhu, Kirtipur, and Mulpani. Disturbance in the natural recharge areas has added to the problem.

Falling water levels mean that the water crisis will deepen in the days to come unless the supply could be ensured through natural sources, and it could also lead to more cave-ins.

There is no restriction on the exploitation of the groundwater of the valley by government agencies and private suppliers and users; as a result, the valley’s groundwater has already been exploited beyond its safe limits.

For the purpose of collecting data from different locations, the board has monitored deep tube wells regularly in four places since 2001.

The present water demand of the valley stands at 360 million waters per day, according to the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL).

But the supply falls far short as the KUKL provides only 95 million litres per day during summer and winter and 154 million litres in the rainy season.

Sadly, it obtains half of its supply from groundwater through deep and shallow tube wells. All this means that the over-exploitation has become a necessary evil, because no human being can do without a certain quantity of water even if they use water very economically.

But the government does not have reliable data on how many shallow and deep tube wells and wells have been operating in the valley and how much water they are pumping up each day, and also how much water can be so drawn up, that too, also safely.

However, in 1990, JICA suggested that only up to 15 million litres of water could be drawn from the groundwater sources per day. This means groundwater sources are being exploited at dangerous levels.

Experts point out that the diminishing groundwater level in the Kathmandu Valley has increased the risk of structural impact on land, with unpleasant consequences for soil composition.

In order to supply adequate water to the people of the valley, other sources of water than groundwater should be tapped.

Bringing the water of the Melamchi River to the Kathmandu Valley is the project now under way, whose completion date has been delayed several times and by several years.

The completion of this project should be speeded up, at the same time exploring and restoring other natural sources of water.

Idols in peril

Incidences of theft of ancient idols are on the rise during recent time in Bhaktapur. Recently two idols were stolen in Bhaktapur.

It is believed that these were stolen at night.

According to the police, these incidents are taking place with increasing frequency because people in Bhaktapur living in the vicinity of the temples have migrated to safer places after the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015 and strong aftershocks.

This is indeed a disturbing development because these ancient idols are priceless and they are being stolen by unscrupulous thieves and sold abroad. The idols should therefore be protected.

Taking into account that this is a serious matter there should be monitoring round the clock so that the thieves are not allowed carry out their nefarious activities threatening the precious idols.

The police say that they would be installing CCTV cameras so that they would be able to provide the necessary security for the idols.

As it is, post-earthquakes the thieves are found indulging in their clandestine activities unhindered.

It is important to develop a database of the culturally important idols and the police should be provided with the necessary details to enable them to bring thefts of idols to a halt.