Parched Punjab: Groundwater extraction rate remains alarming - The Tribune India

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Parched Punjab

Groundwater extraction rate remains alarming

Parched Punjab

Photo for representation. File photo



WITH groundwater extraction exceeding water recharge by an alarming 163 per cent in Punjab, the state is the worst off in the country, as per the Dynamic Ground Water Resource of India report, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha during the just-concluded winter session of Parliament. Rajasthan (148.77 per cent) is second, followed by Haryana (135.74 per cent). The national average is around 59 per cent. The Central Ground Water Board has warned that at the current rate of extraction, groundwater at an average depth of up to 100 metres will be exhausted in Punjab by 2029 and will drop below 300 metres 10 years later, even as many parts of the state have already reached the 150-200-metre stage. The decline must be urgently arrested as water below this level is considered unfit for both drinking and irrigation.

It is well documented that this grim situation stems from the cultivation of paddy, a water-guzzling crop. Farmers opt for paddy in view of a robust procurement system and the inability of the state and Central governments to promote viable alternatives such as millets. This is evident from the high density of tubewells — one for every six acres of Punjab’s cultivable area — as well as diesel pumps. The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited has flagged the fact that districts with a critical water table have the highest number of tubewells.

This trend of overexploitation of groundwater is worrisome. It indicates that successive governments have failed to address the factors responsible for the accelerating water depletion rate. Effective steps have not been taken to save states such as Punjab from impending desertification. The water stress must be reduced as the nation’s food security is also at stake.

#Groundwater #Lok Sabha #Rajasthan


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