Deficient rainfall in almost a dozen out of Punjab’s 22 districts has led to over-exploitation of ground water to irrigate paddy fields in the state. Groundwater had to be used extensively to save paddy crop on nearly 25 lakh hectares out of total 29 lakh hectares of area under the ‘rice crop varieties’ in state this year.
This area is divided into total 141 agricultural blocks in the state, out of which 102 agricultural blocks fall under the ‘Dark Zone’. A ‘Dark Zone’ is an area where groundwater table has sharply declined and the recharging process is slow. According to the Met department around 55 per cent of the total area of the state faced a ‘rain drought’ with scanty and deficient rainfall.
Agriculture Department experts said that due to less rain, farmers only got sufficient water for crop by running their tubewells. Paddy is highly water intensive crop and to grow one kg of rice one needs 4000 to 4500 litre of water.
“Punjab is gearing up for the a bumper ‘paddy crop’ this season with expected yield of 165 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) paddy production, so one can imagine that even if little less 50 per cent crop was irrigated with groundwater then how much burden it put on the groundwater table,” said a senior Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) scientist.
JS Bains, Director Punjab Agricultural Department, said: “There may be rain drought in half of Punjab, but it hardly comes to ‘agricultural drought’ here as our farmers save their crop by spending money and arranging ground water.”