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Punjab will turn into a desert in 25 years if present rate of water exploitation continues, warns panel

The Punjab Vidhan Sabha Committee constituted to study the depletion of water table said every year the groundwater table goes down by 70 cm.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
September 14, 2021 5:12:13 pm
Punjab, Punjab vishan sabha, Punjab water depletion, Punjab groundwater, Water conservation, paddy, paddy sowing, Punjab news, indian express, indian express news, current affairsTo save water, the government must enforce DSR (direct sowing of rice) and also divert several areas to other crops, he said, adding the committee is also studying how the diversion can be carried out in the best manner and will put forth suggestions later. (Representational)

Ringing alarm bells for the agrarian state, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Committee constituted to study the depletion of water table Tuesday said every year the groundwater table gets depleted by 70 cm but it does not get recharged due to the formation of a nine-inch rocky layer over the earth due to the puddling method of paddy sowing.

Committee Chairman and Kapurthala MLA Rana Gurjit Singh told the media that the state will turn into a desert in 25 years if the practice of drawing water from underground aquifers continues. He said that the state requires 64 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water, but had a shortfall of 14 BCM. “This water is drawn from the underground resources,” Singh pointed out.

To save water, the government must enforce DSR (direct sowing of rice) and also divert several areas to other crops, he said, adding the committee is also studying how the diversion can be carried out in the best manner and will put forth suggestions later.

“Over the years, a nine-inch rocky layer has formed under our soil due to puddling, which is a requirement for paddy sown in the flooding method. This prevented rainwater recharging of the water table. If it rains more than 50 cm, the entire water gets wasted and results in flooding. The situation is alarming. It is time to wake up and take action,” he said.

Singh also suggested that it was time to separate the Water Resources Department from the Mines and Minerals Department so that the former can get due attention. He also sought the launch of a water credit scheme under which those saving water would be rewarded, besides urging to recycle the water in municipal waste. The government should carry out a water audit in the domestic, industrial and agriculture sectors by installing meters. “This will ensure that we have data on usage of water,” he said.

The committee has also suggested that houses measuring 250 square yards or more should harvest rainwater. The kucha drains used for irrigation should be changed into underground pipes to save water. Pointing out that canal water was not distributed uniformly at present, the panel has sought to correct the situation. Quality audits by placing checks at uniform distances can help determine the sources of pollution, it said.

The Vidhan Sabha had constituted the Committee on March 4 this year. The Speaker had nominated six members with Singh as its Chairman and Harpartap Singh Ajnala, Gurpartap Singh Wadala, Hardev Singh Laddi, Dr Raj Kumar Chabbewal and Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer as members. The panel was assisted by the Principal Secretary of the Water Resources Department and other officers. The Committee deliberated extensively on the subject and was assisted by experts including a representative of the Mekrot Company in Israel.

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