Hope runs dry as groundwater sources in Punjab drop to alarming levels
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Hope runs dry as groundwater sources in Punjab drop to alarming levels

By Asianage calender  14-Oct-2019

Hope runs dry as groundwater sources in Punjab drop to alarming levels

Despite delayed monsoon and alarmingly low groundwater, Punjab continues to grow water-guzzling paddy this kharif season. Keeping in view the gravity of the situation, the state government called an emergency all-party meeting.
Political parties vowed to seek the help of farmer unions to discourage paddy cultivation, but there is no change on ground. Agricultural experts had shown red flag on ground waterfront.
The water crisis is not sudden. It has been in the making for the past many decades. However till now, everyone, the government as well as farmers, maintained a studied silence. They have woken up to the crisis only when the situation has gone worse.
Punjab was not always water-deficient in 1984. It had 2.44 million acre ft (MAF) of groundwater, which dwindled to minus 11.63 MAF in 2013.
The overexploitation of groundwater led to fast depletion of the water table, due to which the average depth of tubewells increased from 49 ft during 1960-70 to 128 ft in 2013-14 in nearly 15 districts of (predominantly paddy zone). Of them, the pre-monsoon depth of the water table went down by 7 metres to 22 metres in 10 districts during 1996-2016.
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh announced after the all-party meeting to soon evolve a broad consensus to address the problem of depletion of groundwater in the state.
Chairing a high-level meeting of the Cabinet ministers, political leaders, senior officers, water experts, scientists and representatives of the farmer organisations and industry to discuss the ways and means to resolve the alarming situation across the state, Captain Amarinder Singh said that it was high time to tackle this problem for our future generations otherwise the fertile Punjab was on the verge of becoming a desert.

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