Farmers drill deeper to install borewells as floods contaminate groundwater in Doaba : The Tribune India

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Farmers drill deeper to install borewells as floods contaminate groundwater in Doaba

Farmers drill deeper to install borewells as floods contaminate groundwater in Doaba

As flood water started receding villagers returned to their homes at Gidarpindi village of Shahkot in Jalandhar. File photo



Tribune News Service

Aparna Banerji

Jalandhar, March 23

“How much deeper can we dig for groundwater. We fear, one day, we will find nothing. The rate at which we are going, this isn’t impossible,” says Nasirpur (Shahkot)-based Nairvair Singh.

The Doaba region has already been flagged for concerns regarding groundwater depletion and contamination as well as being declared a dark zone due to incessant water use. Repeated floods, which have ravaged the region, aggravated underground water crisis in the region. Across the Shahkot, Sultanpur Lodhi and Gidderpindi areas, farmers are digging deeper to install borewell in their fields and homes. Their previous borewells got contaminated after polluted water entered their fields. Besides underground water was also contaminated by recent floods. The minimum depth at which a farmer can find fresh water has increased from whopping 450 feet to 500 feet in the area. From the year 2000 to 2019, anyone installing a borewell would dig upto a minimum of 100 to 150 feet.

After the 2019 floods in the Sutlej River, farmers across the Lohian, Shahkot and Gidderpindi areas had dug deeper to install borewells as industrial effluents laced with flood water contaminated the groundwater. In 2023, they had to dig even deeper for borewells.

Shahkot and Lohian situated on banks of the Sutlej are the worst hit areas compared to Sultanpur Lodhi which is situated on the banks of the Beas River.

Nirvair Singh says, “The Sutlej waters bring worst kind of effluents along with the Chitti Bein and the waste from Buddha Nullah. After floods, water from these sources contaminated our fields, homes and groundwater. Farmers are now digging from 450 to 500 feet for installing a new borewell. Earlier, fresh water was found at 100 to 130 feet. Each year, floods have led to more water contamination. We had installed a borewell in 2019. Now, it gives dirty water for five to seven minutes before clear water comes out. The cost of installing a new borewell is at least Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. Not every farmer can afford it.”

Salwinder Singh, a farm leader from the Jania village in Shahkot said, “The floods in 2023 brought much more sludge and dirt. We got one new borewell installed after the floods which too has gone bad and is gives dirty water. Now, we may have to install a new borewell. The water up to several layers is sludge ridden. That is unfit for both drinking and irrigation. Borewells are drilled from 400 to 500 feet into the earth to get fresh water.”

He said, “I have just come back from home of another villager who is installin a new borewell as fresh water level has gone down considerably after floods.”

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The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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