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Groundwater depletion: Haryana CM pushes for micro-irrigation

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar says previous governments did not pay attention to increasing water availability for irrigation
By HT Correspondent, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON JUN 13, 2021 07:57 PM IST
Haryana chief minister expressed concern over the groundwater level going down to 80 feet in districts such as Kurukshetra, Karnal, Kaithal and Panipat. (Bloomberg)

Asking farmers to adopt micro-irrigation where the groundwater level has gone down, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday said the previous governments did not pay attention to increasing water availability for agriculture.

Presiding over the first meeting of Haryana Water Resources Authority in Chandigarh on Sunday, the chief minister expressed concern over the groundwater level going down to 80 feet in districts such as Kurukshetra, Karnal, Kaithal and Panipat.

“The farmers should give priority to micro-irrigation in areas where the groundwater has gone down. The condition of Shahabad and Ismailabad in Kurukshetra district is worst,” he said.

The dependence of people on groundwater increased, he said, because the previous governments did not pay any attention to increasing the availability of water for agricultural use.

Khattar said that to raise the depleting groundwater level in the state, there is a need for a customised plan for water recharge and utilisation, so that people can get adequate supply for agriculture and domestic use.

The CM said for the smooth availability of groundwater, river water and treated water to the farmers in the state, a centralised water monitoring system should be prepared over the next two years. The plan should be extended to the village level with the participation of people and public representatives. He directed the officers concerned to formulate plans on the basis of different areas of the state and prepare water availability index of each village, so that people can get information regarding availability of water.

Keshni Anand Arora, chairperson of Haryana Water Resources Authority, said a customised water plan will be prepared for the availability of water as per the requirement of all people in the state.

60% blocks severely hit

Additional chief secretary (irrigation and water resources) Devender Singh said the problem arising out of groundwater exploitation has taken a formidable form in 14 out of 22 districts of Haryana, besides waterlogging and water salinity in seven districts.

He said of 141 blocks in the state, 60% (85) came in the red category in 2020, up from 48% (55 of 114 blocks) in 2004, due to groundwater exploitation. “Therefore, farmers should reduce their dependence on groundwater and give priority to crop diversity,” he said.

DS Dhesi, chief principal secretary to chief minister, said that the state government’s Mera Pani Meri Virasat scheme, which incentivises farmers who conserve water, has been appreciated not only in the country but also by the World Bank.

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