Khushi Jain


Revival of the Unvisited

Ironically, with increasing water supply-demand, step-wells and tankas have become ancient infrastructures of our cities. With growing population and urbanization we have become blindsided by a source of water that is about to go extinct. Groundwater has been an overly dependent source of irrigation and drinking water in the alluvial regions of the country and our ancestors had also worked out mechanisms of replenishing the aquifers which have been slumped now. Revival of the unvisited is a critique on over-exploitation and lack of awareness regarding groundwater. Through significantly dominant interventions, it emphasises the visibility factor of groundwater by recharging, testing contamination, purification and interaction.   Speculative interventions have been injected in the Vastrapur area of Ahmedabad where the excessive decline in groundwater levels has been witnessed. Each mechanism acts as an agent to revive groundwater by opening the unseen blindfolds of people. By making it visible through a participatory contribution by people it brings back the lost engagement with groundwater. Being located at places highly frequented by folks of all age groups, the interventions become detectable and approaches a larger mass at the same time. Through subtle actions of checking groundwater levels, witnessing the contaminated water and being able to peep inside the ground the interventions then become mediums to instigate awareness. They become a part of the daily routines of individuals and unknowingly prompt them to be more sensitised and innovative in relation to groundwater.  

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Through just one overhead tank we receive water in our homes which gets modulated by various elements which act as interfaces to reach us. Water is free-flowing therefore it becomes crucial to regulate it through such elements like pumps, inlet-outlet valves, levers, motors, etc, that come together to make these gadgets and help us reach the kind of water we require based on our needs. The mapping gives a perspective of how powerful these gadgets are and the amount of importance they hold in our lives!

The mapping focuses on the fluctuations in groundwater in terms of its levels and quality. The data is collected from the centre of the gw board yearbooks from the year 2014 to 2018. Groundwater takes years to show evident changes in its patterns yet in just five years, in some regions of the Ahmedabad district, the degradation in terms of both levels and pollution has been drastic. The depth levels of Ahmedabad city are at a critical stage compared to the rest of the regions in the district. Until the year 2000, AMC fulfilled 61% of the city's water needs through groundwater. However, due to such excessive usage, the municipality claimed to be entirely independent of GW by 2009-10. However, the GW level graphs till 2018 belie such projections. The middle and high-income neighbourhoods draw an unreasonable amount of GW through private bore wells even after getting municipality supply whereas the neighbourhoods which do not have access to AMC's supply resort to drawing water from

Followed by the depleting levels, the pollution rates have been hazardous. In regions like Kumarkhan and Dalod, the chemical pollutants in GW are soaring, making it perilous to be used. The TDS levels for drinking water should be below 300 mg/litre while in a few regions it is found to be as high as 10,000. Hence the mapping points out these undulations in GW to draw immediate attention to the depleting natural source.

Tolerating the toxic locates the places where groundwater has been heavily contaminated. In the state of Gujarat, groundwater dependency has been high owing to the semi-arid climatic conditions. With increasing demand by all sectors including domestic and industrial, the excessive drafting of groundwater has led to a severe crisis. Ironically, the toxication of groundwater is being tolerated by people who completely rely on it for their livelihood. Farmers have been charging PILs against industrialists who discharge their chemically toxicated water into the rivers. This water when used for irrigating crops leads to severe loss to the farmers. Domestic sites which are dependent on groundwater as their source of drinking water are facing the turmoil of water borne diseases due to high content of TDS, chlorine and nitrates. Hence to narrow down the study, the mapping focuses on alluvium aquifer of Gujarat as its region. The mapping brings out a contrast wherein one group suffers from

A case of contamination due to domestic waste, the landfill site located in Ahmedabad city has extreme cases of groundwater contamination due to chemical effluents, leachate, and municipal solid waste. As a result, the residents in the vicinity of the site suffer from severe diseases due to the usage of contaminated groundwater.

The three locations of interventions under the umbrella of public places have been scored based on the factors of visibility, highly frequented by people and connectivity. The lake which already acts as a recreational space provides high visibility and a large number of visitors along with significant time to engage with the intervention on site. The Ahmedabad one mall again has a high frequency of visitors and lastly, the Nirman high school cluster includes residential buildings which allow people of all age groups to engage with the intervention and make it a part of their routines.

Wheels of future- located in the vastrapur lake indicate groundwater levels and the number of days left before groundwater goes extinct based on the daily extraction.

The intervention pumps underground water through wheeled gauge meters which monitor the groundwater levels. The water is transferred to a smaller wheel which based on the daily extraction predicts the number of days left before water is dried up. The carousels and wind turbines generate the electrical energy required to pump water inside the system.

Periscoping into the ground- located in the atrium of Ahmedabad one mall is a medium to witness groundwater at a place with high footfall.

The long translucent tubes are dug deep inside the ground. Periscopes are installed inside the tubes to allow visitors to peep inside. The fluctuating sounds of bell charms are heard through the internal movement of water. This sound becomes shrill when water is being extracted through the private Borwell of the mall. The centre is used to exhibit groundwater levels of Ahmedabad district along with its topography. It reveals how the depth is maximum in Ahmedabad city, making the viewers conscious.