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Pb Cabinet sets up 5-member panel to assess ground water situation


Press Trust of India Chandigarh
The Punjab Cabinet today constituted a five-member sub-committee to assess the ground water situation in the state.
The committee will come out with a detailed proposal for conservation of the critical resource.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who chaired a meeting of the state cabinet here, suggested the committee visit Israel to study the methods being used by the west Asian country to minimise the use of ground water and save the precious resource.
The Committee comprises Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Local Government Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Revenue Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Environment Minister O P Soni, an official spokesperson said here.
The decision to form the cabinet sub-committee was taken after Mission Director, Directorate of Ground Water Management, Arunjit Singh Miglani, made a detailed presentation to the Cabinet, highlighting the gravity of the problem, the spokesperson said.
Miglani apprised the state Cabinet that with 18 per cent of the world's population to feed "on just 4 per cent of worlds water, India was sitting on a ticking atom bomb". Groundwater extraction in India was more than twice that of US and China, he further revealed.
The spokesperson said that after the cabinet meeting the chief minister expressed serious concern over the depleting water levels, pointing out that the state would have no water left in the next 15 years unless immediate steps were taken.
With the highest rate of decline in ground water level, Punjab has the highest percentage of dark zones in country.
Punjab, which has the highest rate of groundwater exploitation, during 2008-2013 on average withdrew 28.2 Million Acre Feet (MAF) yearly, with yearly average replenishment of only 18.9 MAF, thus causing a severe shortage.
The chief minister underlined the need for a masterplan for conservation of water and suggested including water conservation in school curriculum to create awareness among children about the importance of saving ground water.
The situation necessitated urgent steps to check further decline in the ground water levels, said the chief minister, reiterating his appeal to farmers to minimise the use of tubewells and shift to canal-based irrigation.
Punjab uses 73 per cent of its groundwater for irrigation, while only 27 per cent of surface water is utilized for irrigation purposes. The number of tubewells in the state went up exponentially - from 2 lakh in 1971 to 12.50 lakh in 2015-16, with 41 per cent of the 12.50 lakh tubewells having availability of water at depth of beyond 60 metres.
The chief minister exhorted farmers to go for diversification instead of sowing water-guzzling crops like paddy, which requires 150 cms of watering, even though actual requirement for plant growth is only 60 cms, with the remaining water getting lost in evaporation.
Stressing on the need to incentivize the conservation of water, the Chief Minister stressed the need to motivate industries to use more surface water than ground water.
The treatment of water should be strictly mandated to make reuse more common, besides enabling use of recycled water for irrigation purposes, he said.
It was also decided at the Cabinet meeting to launch a massive information and awareness drive by the government on water conservation.
Underscoring the need to go for water conservation techniques, including rain water harvesting, the Chief Minister said that social media should be leveraged to create awareness amongst the masses.

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First Published: Jun 27 2018 | 8:25 PM IST

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