Punjab tops in over-exploitation of groundwater, shows government data
Punjab tops the country in over-exploitation of groundwater, a government data shows.
The over-exploitation of the groundwater was highest in Punjab (76%) followed by Rajasthan (66%), Delhi (56%) and Haryana (54%), according to the data shared by the government in the Lok Sabha last week.
Punjab farmers’ over-dependence on water-guzzler paddy is one of the major reasons of depleting groundwater level. Paddy is sown over 76 lakh acres in the state. The worst-affected districts in terms of depleting water table are Bathinda, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Moga, Pathankot and Patiala. The fall in the water table is the most acute in these areas at nearly one metre a year. The fall is evident from the fact that tubewells in these districts are dug as deep as 300 feet to get water fit for irrigation.
The government data shows groundwater level in 16% of the taluka, mandal, block-level units in the country fall under the “over-exploited” category, while 4% fall under the “critical” category.
Groundwater level of the 6,584 block, mandal, tehsil-level units assessed by the Central Groundwater Board reveal that 4,520 units fall under the “safe category”. As many as 1,034 units have been categorised as “over-exploited”, the data states.
Nearly 681 block, mandal, taluka-level units in the country, constituting 10% of the total figure, fall under the “semi-critical” category, while 253 fall under the “critical” category. Nearly 1% of the blocks, mandals and talukas had saline water. The figure is based on the government’s 2013 assessment.
“As per the 2013 assessment, out of total 6,584 assessment units (blocks, talukas, mandals, watersheds, firkas) in the country, 1,034 units in 17 states and Union territories have been categorised as over-exploited where groundwater extraction is more than the net groundwater availability and there is significant long-term decline in water levels. Two hundred and fifty-three units have been categorised as critical, 681 units as semi-critical and 4,520 units as safe,” the minister of state in the jal shakti ministry shared the information in Parliament last week.
There was no over-exploitation of groundwater reported in West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Odisha, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa.
Groundwater levels in all the block, taluka, mandal-level units from 12 states and Union territories — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli — were reported to be in the safe category.