Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Documenting The Urban Subsurface In India

In a correspondence with Current Science A.K. Singhvi of the Physical Research Lab Ahmedabad proposes that an opportunity is presenting itself to understand the shallow subsurface in and around cities. Urban areas are undergoing a construction boom and excavations and pits are being dug all over.

Wouldn't it be great if both government agencies and Universities start documenting the geology with the aim of creating a database useful for urban governance.  Sometime back I had mused along similar lines with regards to the aquifers underneath Pune. Large number of borewells are being drilled within and on the fringes of the city to supplement surface water supply. I had suggested that we could further our understanding of the shallow and deep aquifers by enlarging the existing groundwater monitoring programs.

Implementing this though would require embedding a certain flexibility and adaptability to how the concerned geological agencies and University departments work. I am a little pessimistic that currently our agencies may be too wedded to their working plans to deviate from their day to day job descriptions. University faculty too need to shed an insular mentality and proactively network with and develop collaborations with builders and drillers. My experience is that many are only intent on covering and finishing the "syllabus".

These new developments could be a boon for basic data collection on the shallow urban subsurface. But is the Indian geology community opportunistic enough to grab what is being offered?

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