Groundwater diviners vs science

Unscientific method of using groundwater diviners will only escalate the cost of borewell digging. (Source: India Water Portal)
Unscientific method of using groundwater diviners will only escalate the cost of borewell digging. (Source: India Water Portal)

In many parts of the world including India, groundwater diviners or dowsers are considered to have special powers to precisely find the site that yields groundwater for drilling borewells. Irrespective of the level of literacy, villagers and farmers are highly influenced by these groundwater diviners. 

In India, farming is largely rainfall dependent. During dry seasons, farmers turn to groundwater for irrigation by drilling borewells in their farms. They seek the help of these diviners or other unscientific methods to find out the site for digging borewells that would yield groundwater. But the result often fails, resulting in repeated digging for water. Despite that, very few seek out scientific and trusted methods for groundwater exploration. 

The water diviners or dowsers carry tools that come in various shapes--Y-shaped branches of any plant, U- or L-shaped rods of any metal, coconuts, pendulum, etc--and use various “techniques” to spot the right place for digging borewells. To describe their methods, they just carry these rods or sticks and coconuts in their hand and walk for a few metres in the field. Because they are believed to have divine power, the rods or sticks will move or rotate in their hands at the spot best for drilling a borewell. Sometimes, they get lucky and manage to make money. Sometimes, these diviners confidently offer to bear all the cost of drilling in case their prediction fails and when it actually fails, they scoot from the spot, never showing their face again in that area. 

Unfortunately, some of these groundwater diviners get awards from state ministers and they use these awards to promote their fake services. The services cost anywhere between Rs 15,000 - Rs 80,000 which makes repeated drilling unaffordable for rural farmers. These diviners fall in the same category as many gurus and babas in India who claim to cure people of diseases like cancer with no medical background at all. 

The geophysical survey using the electrical resistivity method is the most trusted practice for groundwater explorations. This is both scientific and economical. This method has a success rate of about 80 percent. Unfortunately, there are very few people and organisations in India that can do it. Ideally, farmers should adopt the latest science and technology for groundwater exploration at a time when they are applying the latest science and technology for drilling the borewells and lifting groundwater out of them. 

We are aware that many of you need help in finding good site locations for borewell drilling. It is highly recommended to contact the local hydrogeologists, either from private organisations or groundwater departments. These local geologists and experts have enough experience and data about local aquifer systems, geology, topography, groundwater situation etc to help you better in solving your problems. 

We welcome every suggestion, discussion and solution related to the problem so the users benefit from it and get sufficient qualitative water for their use. 

Authors are Ratilal Sudani, director, Bhoojalshree Geotech Consultant, Anand, Gujarat and Dr Suresh Pawar, director, Bhoojalshree (HO), Pune, Maharashtra. They can be reached at 9427382368/ 9978115968/ 9822645787.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of India Water Portal.