Explained: Is paddy cultivation sucking Haryana’s water table dry?https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-is-paddy-cultivation-sucking-haryanas-water-table-dry-5781850/

Explained: Is paddy cultivation sucking Haryana’s water table dry?

As Haryana fights to turn the tide on depleting water table, The Indian Express explains how paddy is the culprit in state’s numerous “dark zones”.

Explained: Is paddy cultivation sucking Haryana’s water table dry?
Paddy is not suitable for Haryana because it puts tremendous stress on the groundwater due to its water-intensive nature. (PTI Photo/File)

As Haryana fights to turn the tide on depleting water table, The Indian Express explains how paddy is the culprit in state’s numerous “dark zones”.

How does paddy cultivation impact groundwater level in Haryana?

One kg of rice requires 2,000-5,000 litres of water depending upon the paddy variety, soil type and the time of sowing. With paddy production jumping from 39.89 lakh tonnes in 2014 (is this figure correct?) to 45.16 lakh tonnes in 2018, the number of tubewells in the state also shot up from a few thousand to 8 lakh, resulting in overdrawing of groundwater.

As water levels decline, the rate of water the well can yield also declines. So alarming is its fall that the Haryana government has declared 64 blocks in the state as dark zones. Wells in these areas have dried up. Farmers in this area cannot dig a new borewell without taking permission from the administration.

What are dark zones?

These are zones where the water table has fallen to a critical level, and the rate at which water is being drawn is much more than the pace at which it is being recharged. In the last two decades, the farmers have pumped out much as 74% of the groundwater reservoirs. The agriculture department officials say that if over-exploitation of the water continues, parts of Haryana will turn into a desert in the coming years.

What’s the extent of groundwater depletion?

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Mahendragarh district is the worst in terms of depletion of groundwater. Groundwater in this district dived to 48.54 metres in June 2018. In 1974, the water table in this district stood at 16.11 metres.

In the past 42 years, the state has witnessed an average decline of 10.38 metres in its groundwater level. In last five years alone, the water table has fallen by 2.20 meters. In half of Haryana’s 22 districts, the water table has dropped from one metre to six metres.

The ground water has depleted by 6.17 metres in Fatehabad, 5.67 metres in Kaithal, 5.37 metres in Kurukshetra, 4.40 metres in Panipat, 3.96 metres in Rewari, 3.36 metres in Mahendragarh, 2.14 metres in Sirsa, 2.10 metres in Faridabad, 2.08 metres in Sonepat, 1.79 metres in Bhiwani, 1.48 metres in Palwal, 1.39 metres in Jind and 1.12 metres in Karnal.

Why is paddy not suitable for Haryana?

Paddy is not suitable for Haryana because it puts tremendous stress on the groundwater due to its water-intensive nature. Experts also say that it has exhausted the soil health while the crops like arhar, pulses and oilseeds require minimum fertilisers. The government says that there is need of adopting sprinkler irrigation, micro sprinkler irrigation and drip irrigation to save water.