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Posted at: Jun 1, 2016, 1:29 AM; last updated: Jun 1, 2016, 1:29 AM (IST)

Growing paddy takes heavy toll on groundwater table

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 31

The failure of the state government to promote crop diversification is taking a toll on the depleting water table. Two successive deficient monsoons in the past two years coupled with overexploitation of groundwater to irrigate fields has added to the problem.

A comprehensive data compiled by the Agriculture Department, available with The Tribune, from 22 districts of the state shows that the water level is falling every year. The pre-monsoon readings in some areas are alarmingly low. The Hoshiarpur-2 block has the lowest water level recorded at 191 feet (58.40 m) followed by Sardulgarh at 182 feet (55.54 m), 166 feet (50.80 m) in Patran and 162 feet (49.40 m) in Ropar.

The data further highlights how the shallowest water table recorded in Barnala is still 21 m while the water is available at a mere 0.40 m in Ropar’s Anandpur Sahib block. In Sangrur’s Lehragaga block, the shallowest in the district, water is 19.42-m low.

In the waterlogging-affected districts of south Punjab in Muktsar, the shallowest water depth is 1.40 m in Malout block while the deepest is 6.70 m in Lambi. Further in Faridkot, another waterlogged district, the shallowest water level is 1.60 m while it is 16.30 m in Kotkapura. In Ferozepur, the shallowest level is 3 m in Guru Har Sahai while the deepest is 27.65 m in Zira Block.

“Poor efforts by the state government in bringing farmers out of the paddy cycle are now showing their result. In addition, the government policy to release water tubewell connections for vote-bank politics is sure to deepen the water crisis. Free power to the farm sector too leads to the misuse of water,” claimed former chief engineer with the Irrigation Department Jaskaran Sandhu.

“A weak monsoon in the last two years has strained the groundwater more as the power subsidy in Punjab has grown from Rs 4,778 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 5,484 crore in 2015-16. Though the power subsidy is burdening the state exchequer, the state government continues to give it despite criticism by agriculture experts who have been advising the government to do away with the subsidy and look for alternative arrangements to save water,” claimed another senior expert on power.

As per the PSPCL top brass, at present, there are roughly 12.76 lakh tubewell connections in Punjab and around 1.25 lakh connections more would be added by next year. However, the only good news at present is the prediction of a normal or heavy monsoon this year.

Alarming readings 

Data compiled by the Agriculture Department from 22 districts of the state shows that the water level is falling every year. The pre-monsoon readings in some areas are alarmingly low. The Hoshiarpur-2 block has the lowest water level recorded at 191 feet (58.40 m) followed by Sardulgarh at 182 feet (55.54 m), 166 feet (50.80 m) in Patran and 162 feet (49.40 m) in Ropar. 

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