Alarming groundwater depletion in the Delhi Metropolitan Region: a long-term assessment

Shouraseni Sen Roy, Atiqur Rahman, Shakeel Ahmed, Shahfahad, Ishita Afreen Ahmad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Groundwater in Delhi Metropolitan Region (DMR) is suffering from multiple catastrophes, viz., asymptotic increases in groundwater withdrawal, reduced recharge due to erratic rainfall, and variable soil type. In this study, we examined long-term trends in groundwater levels across the DMR from 1996 to 2018. Station level data collected by the Central Groundwater Board for 258 stations at the seasonal scale were visualized and interpreted using geospatial analysis. The spatial patterns of the trends in groundwater levels revealed increasing depths of groundwater levels, except the Yamuna River floodplains. The main cause for the decline is related to the rapid growth in population accompanied with high-density impervious urban land uses, leading to lower levels of recharge vs unlimited withdrawal of groundwater for daily needs. In addition, the local geology in the form of clayey soils in northwest DMR also contributed to the lower levels of recharge. The results of the analysis enabled us to establish the trend and delineate the zones of differential recharge. Furthermore, the level of contaminants were analyzed at the district level for fluorides and nitrates. The presence of fluoride contamination was mostly concentrated in the northwestern district, while the nitrate exceedance was more widespread. These findings will help in achieving the 6th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of United Nations by 2030 as well as goals identified in Delhi’s master plan of 2041.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number620
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Delhi Metropolitan Region
  • Groundwater depletion
  • Land use land cover change (LULCC)
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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