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Groundwater Scarcity, Pollution Set India on Perilous Course

Drained and contaminated aquifers contribute to India’s “worst water crisis.”

Doula Village lies 55 kilometers (34 miles) northeast of New Delhi on a flat expanse of Uttar Pradesh farmland close to the Hindon River. Until the 1980s Doula Village’s residents, then numbering 7,000, and its farmers and grain merchants, thrived on land that yielded ample harvests of rice, millet, and mung beans. The bounty was irrigated with clean water transported directly from the river, or with the sweet groundwater drawn from shallow wells 7 meters (23 feet) deep. 

That seems a lifetime ago for Krishan Pal Singh. Born and raised in Doula Village, Singh sighs when he explains what happened in the decades since. One of the region’s active environmentalists, Singh says he is an eyewitness to the industrial development near the Hindon River that polluted one of India’s grand waterways, then drained and contaminated the region’s freshwater aquifers.

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