A DAY before paddy sowing season begins, a Hoshiarpur resident Wednesday filed a complaint with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against the Punjab government, the state agriculture department and others for making an announcement about preponing the paddy sowing date by a week, just before the Lok Sabha election.
The government had issued a notification dated June 4 for preponing the date of paddy transplantation to June 13 instead of June 20 (the date last year). Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh had announced advanced sowing in the last month before Lok Sabha elections, a demand that had been raised by farmers.
The complainant, Jai Gopal Dhiman, in his petition said that the notification was issued “without any basis and without application of mind, completely ignoring the alarming condition of depleting groundwater level in Punjab”.
“The impugned notification has been passed in complete ignorance of the Punjab Preservation of Sub-Soil Water Act, 2009, and recent report titled ‘Ground Water Resources of Punjab State’ dated October 2018 prepared by the Water Resources Department of Punjab & Central Ground Water Board revealing that 79% area of Punjab is over exploited i.e. there is “Nil” availability of net groundwater for future irrigation,” said Dhiman’s complaint.
His counsel Cauveri Birbal told The Indian Express that in the petition, the complainant had stated that the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Ludhiana had even suggested extending the date of paddy transplantation June 25 or at least June 20 due to the alarming level of groundwater depletion.
Dhiman said, “Now everyone knows that Punjab is on its way to becoming a desert in the next 25 years due to depletion of groundwater, and my application is an effort and step to prevent this life-threatening crisis.”
Under the Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act, 2009, transplantation of paddy is prohibited before the date notified by the state government. Originally i.e. in 2009, the date for paddy transplantation was notified as June 10th of every year. However, due to depletion of groundwater, the date was extended to June 15 from 2014. Since the groundwater situation became worse, from 2018, the date of paddy transplantation was extended to June 20.