Suresh Pratap Yadav (right) with the groundwater measurement device in Dhanbad. (Gautam Dey)
It is simple, low-cost and only 2ft in height, but the ingenious device to monitor groundwater level patterns non-stop delivers what it promises.
Developed in April by civil engineering diploma students and a teacher of Government Polytechnic Institute, Nirsa, the continuous groundwater measurement device based on the principles of pulley and scaling, records shifts in moisture by touching soil.
It was installed on campus near a tube well on April 10, but data started to be recorded a month ago from June 28.
The findings are hardly surprising, but worrying nonetheless.
Nirsa’s groundwater level in June-end was minus 10mm. Pre-monsoon showers on July 6 for the first time showed a welcome sign — the reading was 43mm. After some heavy showers, the level zoomed up to 180mm in July second week.
What remains to be seen is how fast figures plunge after monsoon and what the winter readings are likely to be.
The readings next summer will more conclusively determine whether groundwater levels are plunging every year.
Excited at the success of the device that cost only Rs 500 to make, Suresh Prasad Yadav, a lecturer (selection grade) of the polytechnic said they wanted to have a more comprehensive picture of groundwater levels across the district for which they would install the gadget across 10 panchayats.
Tying up with state-run Shaksharta Vahini, they will set up the device at Dudhiya in Baliapur, Dhawachita and Hathudih in Baghmara, Shiyalgudri in Dhanbad, Birajpur and Bagsuma in Govindpur, Dungri in Jharia, Jamkudar in Nirsa, Gendanwadih in Topchachi and Kamro in Tundi.
“Our campus readings show broad trends. But getting data from 10 sites will reveal the urgency of the situation. Based on the readings, problems can be identified and corrective steps taken,” he said, adding that they would also patent the device.
He was also quick to praise his students Amit Kumar, Chandan Kumar, Sanjeev Kumar, Bishnu Kumar, Vijay Kumar, Praveen Kumar,Yamuna Kumar, Manish Kumar and Kirti Kumar who worked together to develop the low cost yet accurate gadget that measures water levels to the millimetre.
“The data recorded by our device is cross-checked by an electronic water level recorder. The only difference is that our gadget costs Rs 500 and the electronic one Rs 42,000,” smiled Yadav.
If mass-produced, the continuous groundwater measurement device will prove extremely useful to those engaged in research in watershed management, groundwater and hydrology. And what’s more, it costs a fraction of the peizometer and electronic water level recorder.
“We will scale up our activities. This is just the start,” Yadav summed up.