Punjab, Haryana likely turn into desert in 25 yrs
Extraction of groundwater in the region has increased from 149% in 2013 to 165% in 2018, says Central Ground Water Board report
All available groundwater resources till the depth of 300 metres Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan will end in the next 20-25 years, reveals a draft report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), highlighting how groundwater was being overexploited in the region.
The extraction of groundwater in the region has increased from 149% in 2013 to 165% in 2018, the report said, adding that water available at the depth of about 100 metres in north-west India will end within next 10 years.
MORE WITHDRAWAL THAN RECHARGE
The report submitted to the state governments on basis of groundwater data between 1994 and May 2018 shows that withdrawal of water from the ground was much more than the recharge. Underground water recharge was 21.58 billion cubic metres (BCM) annually, while the gross water withdrawal was 35.78 BCM, the report said. It also said the groundwater was falling at a rate of 51 cm every year.
The situation is slightly better nationally. As against the annual groundwater availability of 411 BCM, the annual withdrawal is estimated to be 253 BCM. The board has observation wells at 30,000 locations across India, providing data on 16 attributes for four seasons in a year.
The report shows the withdrawal of groundwater has increased in the region in the past decade due to frequent droughtlike situations. The India Meteorological Department reports on rainfall patterns in the country show that while Himachal and Uttarakhand received more rainfall, Punjab, Haryana and parts of Rajasthan were rain-deficit.
GROUNDWATER AT 100 METRE DEPTH TO END IN 10 YEARS
In Punjab, districts of Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr, Sangrur, Patiala and Barnala are in red for overexploitation of groundwater. “The report is alarming and clearly states that the groundwater at the 100 metre depth will end in the next 10 years if present rate of withdrawal continues,” said a Punjab government water resources department official, who was not willing to be quoted.
SITUATION WORSE IN SIRSA
In Haryana, Sirsa, Yamunanagar, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Gurugram, Faridabad, Bhiwani and Rewari are in red for groundwater.
In the entire agriculture belt of northern and eastern Rajasthan, the groundwater level has fast depleted and is now in a critical stage. The report shows that in certain parts of Haryana, including Sirsa, groundwater situation was worse than Punjab.
Except the tribal belt of southern Rajasthan and parts of eastern Rajasthan, the entire state is in groundwater emergency, as per the CGWB’s latest data on its website.
In Delhi, only southern parts are in the red while there has been improvement in groundwater levels in north-west and eastern parts of the national capital.
Most of the areas notified by the Central Ground Water Authority are also in these four states.
The falling groundwater in these states will have implications over drinking water supplies and agriculture as over a million tubewells provide water for both.
Though Haryana and Punjab have irrigation facilities, a large part of Rajasthan is totally dependent on groundwater.
P Nandkumaram, membersecretary of the CGWB, said they have submitted the groundwater assessment report to the water resources ministry for action. He refused to divulge details till the ministry vets the report.
‘HEADING FOR DISASTER’
“The situation is bad but not alarming,” said a senior scientist with the board, who was not willing to be quoted as he was not authorised to speak to the media. “If we continue to exploit groundwater the way we are doing, we are heading for disaster. We can sustain water at 50-60 metres below the ground, but for that some regulation is needed.”
Himanshu Thakkar, an IIT alumnus, who runs a non-governmental water organisation — South Asia Network of People, Rivers and Dams (SANDRP) — said over dependence of farmers on groundwater was the prime reason for depletion.
“Though India receives good rainfall every year, in many regions, water is now available more than 100 metres and in some 200 metres below the ground,” he said
The situation shows there is mismanagement of water, not proper use of rainwater and gross misuse of groundwater,” he added..
If we continue to exploit groundwater the way we are doing, we are heading for disaster. We can sustain water at 50-60 metres below the ground, but for that some regulation is needed. SENIOR SCIENTIST, Central Ground Water Board
The report submitted to the state governments on basis of groundwater data between 1994 and May 2018 shows that withdrawal of water from the ground was much more than the recharge.