Ground water exploitation hits soil quality in Moga

 Even as three of the five revenue blocks in the district --- Moga-1, Nihal Singh Wala and  Moga-2 --- were declared dark zones by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) in 2007 due to the rapid depletion of ground water, bore well digging continues unabated.

In fact, if a survey is conducted now more areas are likely to be classified as dark zones as farmers continue search for water and authorities prefer to look the other way in most cases.

The water in Moga has thus been rendered unfit for crop irrigation. Even the soil quality is deteriorating.

Agriculture department officials claim that residual sodium carbonate in ground water has reached 3.5 mEq/litre (milli equivalents per litre). This coupled with the high PH of 8-10, makes the soil alkaline, decreasing the available nutrients, impacting crop growth.

Another issue that needs attention is that pure ground water can only be extracted from increased depths. Water fit for irrigation cannot even be found at a depth of 700 feet.

There is some good advice though for farmers.

"The fertility of agricultural land can be increased in a macrobiotic way by not burning paddy straw residue and allowing it to decompose before sowing wheat," says an agriculture expert.

Officials of the state agriculture department claim that straw was available in significant qualities and could be provided to farmers free.

Deputy commissioner Arshdeep Singh Thind said that the administration was organising training camps to create awareness on the ground water resource situation.  

"The water table to be conserved. Farmers need to diversify from paddy to maize, sugarcane, pulses, oil seed and basmati. Artificial recharge of aquifer systems has also emerged as an important tool for water management as pressure increases on water resources for irrigation, industrial and drinking water."


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