Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology of the RWTH Aachen University

Drinking water in the Trans-Varuna area of Varanasi

This article shows an outline of my Master´s Thesis about the drinking water situation in the Trans-Varuna area of Varanasi in India.

Varanasi is a very old city that has been existing for 3,000 years (Singh, 2011). Located at the holy river Ganga the city is known as a religious and spiritual place in Hinduism.

However, modern effects like urbanisation don´t stop at this city either. According to Singh (2011) the population exceeded a number of 1,000,000 in the year 1991. 10 years later in 2001 it counted more than 1.2 mio inhabitants. The most recent census of population in 2011 shows a number of 1,597,051 inhabitants as urban agglomeration inside the Varanasi district (census 2011). Furthermore, the rural areas inside the Varanasi district are home to additional 2,079,790 people. Finally it is summarized to an actual population of 3,676,841 inhabitants for the whole Varanasi district (census 2011).

The combination of a fast growing city with a water pipe system that is maintained relatively slowly has led to major problem in water supply and sewage disposal. The pipes in the city center show leakages which result in a pollution of (partly clean) drinking water before reaching the residents.

The Trans-Varuna area suffers in an other way from these problems. Water pipes are planned to be installed for several years now and the pipes are already stored on the streets. However the inhabitants are still waiting for a progress. Following that the people still provide themself with drinking water from hand pumps that are located every 500 to 1,000 m on the main roads only. Sewage water is diverted into private drainage pits, a method which is obviously a risk for the pollution of groundwater (in addition to other sources like agriculture or groundwater recharge via polluted Varuna river).

During my stay in Varanasi I took groundwater samples from 19 hand pumps in the Trans-Varuna area and replenished these with one water sample from nearby Varuna river. My final thesis will comprise the results of analyzes in an informing context in the research field of the “interaction between urbanization and water resources management”.



Singh, R.P.B. (2011): , India’s Cultural Heritage City: Contestation, Conservation & Planning. In: Singh, R. P. B., Heritagescapes and Cultural Landscapes. Planet Earth & Cultural Understanding Series, Pub. 6. Shubhi Publications, New Delhi: pp. 205-254.

Census Organization of India (2011): Varanasi (Varansi) District: Census 2011 data. (2013-06-26).

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