During the winter session of Parliament, Rajya Sabha member and environmentalist Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal raised the issue of Punjab’s deepening water crisis and appealed to the central government to help Punjab and its farmers who are feeding the nation.
On the second day of the ongoing session, Seechewal warned that Punjab, which feeds the country with food grains, is now staring at a water crisis.
Referring to the report of the Central Ground Water Board, he said that this report came five years ago. According to this report, by 2039, the groundwater level in Punjab will go deeper by 300 metres up to 1,000 feet, where there is heavy concentration of heavy metals. Punjab has water left only for 17 years, he added.
Referring to the report of the NITI Aayog for 2018-19, Seechewal said in the Rajya Sabha that about 2 lakh people are dying every year due to lack of clean drinking water. Similarly, according to the report released by NITI Aayog in 2020, by the year 2030, 40% of the total population of the country will be deprived of drinking water.
Presenting the data, Seechewal said that 80% agriculture in Punjab is being done with underground water, while only 20% farming is done with canal water. According to the report of NITI Aayog, out of 133 blocks in Punjab, 109 blocks have turned into dark zones. At present, 100 million people in about 21 states of India are facing drinking water crisis.
Dark zone means those areas of the state where the groundwater exploitation is extremely high and are notified for protection by the state government from time to time.
Referring to the water crisis in Tamil Nadu in 2019, Seechewal said that a special train with 50 bogies had to be run to overcome the water crisis there. Keeping this in mind, concrete measures should be taken to stop wastage of water so that the present and coming generations can have clean drinking water.