Vidhan Sabha panel bats for direct seeding to replenish groundwater
A special Vidhan Sabha committee has suggested the need to adopt the direct seeded rice (DSR) technology, increase in area under cotton, micro-irrigation, water metering, demand and supply audit and make water resources ministry deal with all water-related issues to replenish groundwater level in the state.
The recommendations have been made by the special committee led by MLA and former minister Rana Gurjit Singh, which submitted its report to assembly speaker Rana KP Singh here on Tuesday. Harpartap Singh Ajnala, Gurpratap Singh Wadala, Hardev Singh Laddi, Raj Kumar Chabbewal and Gurmeet Singh Hayer (MLAs) were members of the committee.
Rana Gurjit said that Punjab needed to make alternative arrangements to recharge groundwater and change cropping pattern by giving a strong push to DSR technology and diversification to tackle the fall in water level in the state. “The state requires about 62 billion cubic metre water annually, drawing most of it from underground resources and recharges only a fraction of it, leading to fall of 70cm per year in sub-soil water,” he said, stressing the urgency of the matter.
The committee head said there was a time when 7.5 lakh hectare of land was under cotton but this came down to 3 lakh hectare. “We need to make efforts to increase the area under cotton back to the same level because the crop consumes 50% less water as compared to paddy. Water availability should be ensured during the sowing season in that area,” he said. The committee has incorporated the suggestions by experts of the water resources department and Israel-based firm Mekorot which is advising the state government on checking the depleting groundwater table and replenishing it.
The committee was assisted by principal secretary, water resources, Sarvjit Singh and his team. Rana KP Singh said the report would be sent to the state government through proper channel for further action.