Depleting groundwater in Uttar Pradesh has spurred the state to suggest to its farmers less water-intensive crops.
Agricultural Production Commissioner Alok Ranjan suggested paddy crop, which needs a lot of water, could be replaced with pulses and others.
This is against the backdrop of dark zones in the state rising from 108 to 165, according to official figures. A dark zone refers to an area where groundwater level has fallen in a block beyond a parameter, which could differ according to the geography and rainfall pattern of a place. A block is first identified as critical before it being dubbed a dark zone.
Uninhibited exploitation of water resources, drying of wetlands/ponds, haphazard growth pattern and non-replenishment of water bodies/groundwater are the major reasons for the fast decline in groundwater level.
Ranjan was chairing a 'kharif' seminar in Moradabad district yesterday.
Moradabad division alone has 17 of the total 39 blocks under dark zone, which necessitate immediate launch of recharge programme.
Noted environmentalist and Magsaysay awardee Rajendra Singh, who was in Lucknow last month, had cautioned the state against ignoring the declining trend.
Popularly known as 'Waterman', he had also called upon chief minister Akhilesh Yadav apprising him of the water crisis and urgent need for water conservation and recharging water bodies.
Singh had suggested UP to draft a new river policy and identify/demarcate rivers and wetlands.
According to him, UP had witnessed the maximum decline and deterioration in the number of ponds/wetlands.
He was in UP to launch the second phase of 'Jan Jal Jodo Abhiyan', an initiative to reconnect local communities with local water bodies.