The answer to the problem of declining groundwater table probably will pour from the heavens.
The union ministry of water resources has told the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) to do nationwide surveys of groundwater resources and guide the states in scientific and technical matters in this regard.
The CGWB's strategy is to channelise rainwater, which has been going waste till now, into surface streams. Following the guidelines, the agriculture department of Punjab has started educating farmers and general public about the groundwater situation across the state.
Special training camps will be organised in the Malwa region also, as most farmers there are unaware how they can collect groundwater and rainwater. The farmers of this region harvest groundwater for irrigation. "The CGWB has declared three (Moga-1, Nihal Singh Wala, and Moga-2) of the five revenue blocks of Moga district dark zones already because of the fast depletion of the water table," said Arshdeep Singh Thind, deputy commissioner of Moga.
For Sukhdev Singh Brar, chief agriculture officer of Moga, the campaign's aim is to reduce or even reverse the declining level of groundwater. "Groundwater extraction has reached a very high stage and brought problems such as failure of wells and tubewells; deterioration in groundwater quality; and saline water for drinking," he said. For the artificial recharge of groundwater, it was essential to conserve every drop of rainwater, he said.
"To prevent the water table from depleting further, farmers should switch from paddy to growing maize, sugarcane, pulses, and basmati rice," said state-award-winner agriculture expert Jaswinder Singh Brar.
If we manage rainwater at the mass level, it will not only enhance the water availability but also improve the water quality and reduce flood hazard, opine experts.