It is clearly a case of misplaced priority which is creating a paradox of sorts.
The State Government is spending crores of rupees to recharge ground water in villages. However, most areas in which these schemes are being implemented do not actually need them. In fact, some are water logged. And more water has increased soil salinity and affected yield.
Sources at the Groundwater Department revealed that under the schemes, check dams, rainwater harvesting structures and tubewells were being built where ground water level was already high.
Records of Groundwater Department show that an area of 5.06 lakh hectare (ha) in western UP has a ground water level below 15 metre. In central UP, such area is 1.64 lakh ha and in eastern UP, it is 1.13 lakh ha.
Similarly, Bundelkhand has ground water level below 15m in 3.13 lakh ha of land.
Ground water level is deeper than 10m in 11.78 lakh ha in westen UP. In central UP, 3.26 lakh ha has such a level and in eastern UP, it is in 4.35 lakh ha. In Bundelkhand, area below 10m ground water level is 3.33 lakh ha and in Vindhayan (comprising Mirzapur and Sonbhadra), it is 1.84 lakh ha. It is below 8m in 11.32 lakh ha in western UP, 3.72 lakh ha in central UP, 3 lakh ha in eastern UP, 2.65 lakh ha in Bundelkhand and 1.05 lakh ha in Vindhayan.
The State has 37 blocks where ground water has been overexploited. There are 22 critical and 88 semi-critical blocks where ground water has plummeted alarmingly. These areas should have been the priority zones for water recharge. But, purpose of increasing ground water table is getting defeated as the government schemes are not covering areas which require them most.
Experts contend if these areas are missed, farm output will not improve and money pumped into these schemes will go down the drain. They believe that for agricultural intensification and crop diversification, schemes to replenish ground water need to be implemented after proper land mapping by satellites, geological surveys and monitoring. Else, they will do more damage than good.