The water crisis in Punjab worsens each day. However, the centre fails to take any action in this matter. In fact, the leaders of the nation seem to be in denial regarding the dwindling groundwater.
Punjab is Dealing With Water Crisis for Over Three Decades Now
Punjab had 2.44 million acre-feet (MAF) of groundwater in 1984. In a span of three decades, the groundwater shrank to minus 11.63 MAF. One of the major reasons for this is the over exploitation of groundwater. In the beginning, only five districts over-drafted, however, by 2013, fifteen districts joined the group. Accordingly, the average depths of the tubewells increased from 49ft to 128 ft in three decades.
Punjab Taking over Paddy Cultivation
Originally, Punjab had not been a major paddy cultivator. Subsequently, after the green revolution, Punjab followed paddy-wheat rotation. Further, owing to the country’s food demand and its interest in global agri business, Punjab increased paddy cultivation.
Paddy Zone- Major Consumers of Groundwater
Accordingly, the paddy sown area rose from 9% in 1980s to 72% in 2015. As a result, tube well irrigation shot up to 71% from 50%. Also, the canal irritation dropped from 45% to 29%. Thereby depleting the groundwater.
Due to this shift, ground water consumption in Punjab rose to 59,047 billion litres. Previously, Punjab used to consume only 16,648 billion litres.
Even though, Punjab provided major food security to our nation. But, one must not forget the cost we paid- loss of groundwater.
In all, it is high time for farmers to reduce the area of paddy cultivation. Also, it is of utmost importance for the government to take notice and formulate measures to stop the loss. This would guarantee agricultural sustainability, and promise a better future for the farmers. Most important the steps will help us dodge desertification.