Category Archives: Drilling

Soon, power from ancient rocks- Dr Ritesh Arya

Soon, power from ancient rocks- Dr Ritesh Arya     Jan 10, 2013, 06.37AM IST TNN[ Priya Yadav ]

CHANDIGARH: For the hill state of Himachal Pradesh looking for energy solutions, the future lies in the rocks buried beneath thousands of metres.

A drilling project in the cold desert of Ladakh in Chumathang area by the Geological Survey of India and DRDO on the sites identified by team of scientists from Norway Iceland lead by Dr Ritesh Arya during Agneyodgara Indor Puga Geothermal Expedition of 2011 has warmed the prospect of harnessing energy from millions of years old molten rocks.                                                           

In the future, metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad too might be exploring the heat generated from the rocks buried in the earth to light up houses.

The Indian Army in Ladakh is already working towards growing vegetables in greenhouses warmed with geothermal energy in inhospitable terrain of Himalyas, where temperatures routinely dip to over minus 20 degrees Celsius. Not just this, the heat derived from the rocks will be used to warm houses and community buildings like schools.

Ritesh Arya, hydrogeologist and the man behind the country’s first geothermal energy project, has floated the idea globally. The man who made a record that went into the Guinness Book of World Records, by finding water at the highest altitude of over 14,000 feet, will be presenting the Agneyodgara  model at the World Future Energy Summit, scheduled to be held in Abu Dhabi next week.

“Apart from Himalayas we have identified Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad as potential geothermal energy sites because of the geotectonic zones these cities fall in. They have granite rocks which means there was some volcanic activity here in the past. We hope to get temperatures of 200 to 300 degrees centigrade if we drill four to five kilometres deep into the earth,” says Ritesh Arya.

A project has been done in collaboration with the government of Norway that allocated 1.5 million krones to explore and tap geothermal energy in Himalaya.


The team compromising of scientists fromNorway,Icealnd and Indian Institutes and Universitires led by Dr Ritesh Arya had identified Chumathang,Puga,Manikaran,Tatapani as not only potential geothermal sites for power generation but also promotion of tourism activities. (Indian Norwegian venture proposes geothermal development in 3 locations in India – Dr Ritesh Arya)

“In Delhi the rocks are 500-600 million years old, in Mumbai, the rock belt is 50-60 million years old, while Chennai has the oldest rocks dating back to nearly a billion years. 10000MWe is the known geothermal potential of India but if Agneyodagra sites concept of developing Lava Energy at shallow depths proposed by Arya are developed then potential can run into giga watts from over 400 sites in the country,” says Arya, who presented his findings of providing SAFE,FREE, sustainable renewable Energy for all by 2050 in United Nations International Sustainable Energy Convention in Geneva early 2012 and was ranked among the top 10 innovators by Guardian.

The geothermal energy model being mooted is simple. “Drill deep into the earth, like now it is being done for oil. At about 4 km depth, the temperatures would be 200 to 300 degree centigrade. Pour the entire sewerage water of the city into these borewells, which will generate steam that in turn will rotate turbines and generate electricity,” says Arya, giving the urban model of geothermal energy.ergy.p

Dr Arya – Indian geologist makes it to Guinness Book of World Records

Indian geologist Dr Arya makes it to Guinness Book of World Records
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
Dr Ritesh Arya, a hydrogeologist from Panjab University, has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for drilling the highest artesian borehole in the world.

Hailing from Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, this geologist-turned-entrepreneur has been a ‘rebel’ of sorts. First, he left a cushy state government job to start a drilling company on his own and then moved up at high-altitude to drill deep tubewells against the laid-down geological dictum that “the probability of being able to economically harness groundwater on mountain peak is low.”

Investing Rs 30 lakh to start hydrogeological drilling operations, he successfully explored and drilled for groundwater all along the Indus-Tsangpo Suture zone in Leh and across Karakoram Range in the Nubra valley. The success list includes drilling borewells for the Army at Siachen Glacier, Tyagshi in Partapur, Nubra Valley and Thakung, which is the farthest point on the Pang Gong Lake on the Indo-China border.

Dr Arya had sent in his entries to the Guinness for three categories – drilling the highest borewell in the world with artesian conditions at Leh at an altitude of more than 11,000 ft above the mean sea level, drilling highest borehole in the world at 15,500 ft above mean sea level on Khardungla Mountain Range and the drilling borewell in the coldest climatic conditions at Siachen Glacier that is operational even in winters when temperatures plummet to -55 degree C.

While the artesian condition entry has been given a nod and the highest borehole overall is being investigated, the entry for the coldest climatic conditions has been rejected.

A communiqué received by the hydrogeologist from Mr David Hawksett, a UK-based Guinness World Record science and technology representative, reads: “I have now been in touch with some of my expert consultants and can confirm that we will accept for the highest artesian borehole in the world. I am still investigating your claim for the highest borehole overall.”

“Incredible Waterman” Dr Ritesh Arya — India Today

India Today

Dr Arya ”The incredible waterman”-  India Today

9 Oct 2007 – But, Ritesh Arya’s fascination with craggy and barren mountains runs deeper, literally. This intrepid hydrogeologist is about to succeed in his 

Guinness World record holder for drilling highest artesian well







At 18,380 ft in the Himalayas, Khardung La, a wind-swept pass with scanty oxygen on the world’s highest motorable road in Ladakh, is the ultimate milestone for record-crazy adventure seekers.

But, Ritesh Arya’s fascination with craggy and barren mountains runs deeper, literally. This intrepid hydrogeologist is about to succeed in his quest for ground water on Khardung La—a feat that could surpass his own world record of digging borewells at high altitudes.

Already, sparkling clear ground water is streaming out of two borewells he had dug recently at South Pullu and North Pullu, army posts and snow shelters on either side of the pass at 15,300 ft and 15,400 ft, respectively.

Until a month ago, the only source of drinking water here were water tankers from distant Leh and Partapur at the base of the Siachen glacier.

“It’s nothing short of a miracle to get ground water at this height,” gushes a Junior Commissioned Officer of the military police post at South Pullu, an area where granite rocks abound which, according to conventional geology, are too impervious to hold any ground water.

But Arya perceived a narrow valley of rock debris at the base of the receding Khardung glacier, now 6 km from the road, as the most definite indicator of ground water charged by the melting glacier. And, two days after a rig drilled a 300-ft deep hole, it struck a ground water reservoir.

Arya plans his drilling operations after studying the exposed rock faces in the landscape. Such exploits come naturally to him, a diminutive 39-year-old who holds a PhD degree in geology.

By combining his hands-on expertise in Himalayan geology with an unconventional approach, this hydrogeologistturned-professional driller has broken new ground on scientific exploitation of ground water in the high-altitude, cold desert of Ladakh.

In the past 12 years, Arya has dug more than a hundred borewells in inhospitable and treacherous terrains where no geologist or government agency has ventured before. From Siachen glacier to the China border, the Indus plains of Leh and the Kargil heights, his explorations have ensured all-weather ground water supplies to the army and civilians alike.

More significantly, Arya’s pioneering research is likely to redefine Himalayan hydrology and change the traditional schemes for drinking water and irrigation in rain-deficit Ladakh, which has so far been harnessing mostly surface water from the river Indus or glacier-fed streams.Apart from perennial shortage, there is also the problem of silt in glacier melt in summer and freezing of surface water sources in winter. In Leh town, for example, only 10 per cent of the population— which rises from 15,000 to 50,000 every summer due to tourist inflow— has access to ground water through public taps, the rest depends on water tankers.

Ground water exploitation in Ladakh, undertaken by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), has been confined to areas along the Indus river. Exploration beyond that has always been discouraged on the premise that a rocky mountain desert cannot hold ground water.


But, Arya punched holes in this belief by digging a borewell for the army at 14,000 ft in Chushul on China border in 2006—a feat that earned him an entry in the Guiness Book of World Records. “It’s like rediscovering the simple principles of geology and physics operating in high-altitudes,” says Arya.

“His borewells are not only a costeffective solution to the army’s rising water needs in Ladakh but have also boosted the morale of the troops,” says Sanjay Kaul, assistant commander works engineer at the newly-set up 14 Corps in Leh.

“A systematic development of untapped potential of ground water can lead to green revolution in this cold desert,” says Arya. He has since drilled borewells to augment water supply schemes for, among others, the Airports Authority of India, the Indian Oil Corporation, the Indian Air Force and field research laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

Ashok Sahni, Professor Emeritus at the Centre for Advanced Geology of Panjab University, calls Arya “an unconventional hydrogeologist”.

“He took a risk by drilling in the mountains and has struck abundant ground water where it was earlier seen as impossible,” says Sahni.

Arya’s discovery is based on practical experience gleaned from five years of digging hand pumps in Himachal Pradesh where he worked as a daily-wager hydrogeologist with the state government. What, however, added depth to his knowledge was his study of wells in 17th century forts on hill tops in Hamirpur and Solan districts.

“The traditional mountain water supply techniques were based on intuitive science,” says Arya.

To explain the prevalence of ground water in mountains, including the ones that have no rain-fed seepage or snowfall, Arya divided the Himalayas into seven hydrostratigraphic zones in 1996 in a study he presented the same year at the International Conference of Geology in China.

At the heart of his ground-breaking thesis is the finding that ground water resources in the Himalayan region depend on the type of rocks and structural parameters like folds, fissures and fault-lines in the rock strata.

The mountains have ground acquifers just like plains but the water movement in high-altitudes is controlled by the principles of gravity and iso-stacy (wherein the water level is itself up). In his reckoning, even a barren mountain top below the height of Mount Everest will have ground water resources, provided it has favourable lithological conditions like the presence of water-absorbing sedimentary rocks or impervious rocks with water-trapping fault-lines.

“Arya’s high success rate in high-altitude borewells has flowed from his intimate technical knowledge of hydrogeology,” says former CGWB chairman R.K. Chadda.

Arya has a near 100 per cent success rate in his borewells commissioned on a no-water-no-payment basis. Experts view his explorations as significant in the backdrop of receding glaciers and rising demand for water in the Ladakh region.

Also, troop deployment, which has increased manifold since a new Corp was set up in Ladakh after the Kargil war in 1999, adds to the shortage.

“The water level of the river Indus has fallen alarmingly this year, affecting irrigation schemes,” says Chering Dorjay, Chairman of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. Clearly, with Arya around, at least water is something that this cold desert will never thirst for.