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Geography

Depleting Groundwater

  • 27 May 2019
  • 4 min read

Water depletion in Haryana over the years has led to 60 dark zones in the State, which include 21 critical ones in 10 districts.

Reasons for Depletion

  • Increased demand: for water for domestic, industrial and agricultural needs and limited surface water resources lead to the over-exploitation of groundwater resources.
  • Limited storage facilities: owing to the hard rock terrain, along with the added disadvantage of lack of rainfall, especially in north-central Indian states.
  • Green Revolution: enabled water-intensive crops to be grown in drought-prone/ water deficit regions, leading to over-extraction of groundwater.
  • Frequent pumping: of water from the ground without waiting for its replenishment leads to quick depletion.
  • Subsidies: on electricity and high MSP for water-intensive crops are also leading reasons for depletion.

Dark zone: The dark zone is an area where groundwater depletion exceeds the rate of recharging.

The report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) shows that 1,034 of 6584 assessed blocks in the country are over-exploited, and these blocks are usually referred to as 'dark zones'.

Government has taken various measures

  • Discouraging sowing: of water-intensive crops like rice sowing from the upcoming season. Planting of the water-guzzling rice (paddy) crop, threatens to deplete the groundwater.
  • Haryana Government has launched a pilot project intending to diversify non-basmati paddy to maize and pulse in seven blocks of Yamunanagar, Ambala, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind and Sonipat district.
    • Sowing of maize and ‘tuar’ pulse would be promoted by giving incentives to farmers.
    • Under the new scheme, identified farmers will be provided seed free of cost and given financial assistance for Rs. 2000 per acre in two parts.
    • The maize crop insurance premium of Rs. 766 per hectare will also be borne by the government. Also, maize production will be procured by government agencies at MSP.
  • Atal Bhujal Yojana: Central government has decided to implement an Rs. 6000 crore plan to manage the available water resources efficiently, and boost the recharge mechanism, by involving the community.
    • The World Bank is funding half this initiative, with the rest of the funds coming from the government, via budgetary support.
    • The scheme will focus on recharging groundwater sources and propagate the efficient use of water, involving people at the local level.

Farmers Concern

  • Farmers have various concerns like:
    • There is no dependable mechanism of government procurement for crops on MSP in the State.
    • Problems like delay in setting up of procurement centres.
    • Exploitation at the hands of commission agents (arthiyas), who most of the times buy the produce from farmers below MSP.
  • Farmers have asked the government to first come out with a mechanism to procure alternative crops at the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Solutions

  • There is a need to develop a mechanism to purchase the alternative crop at MSP. The State government should enact a law, which guarantees that the produce of farmers is purchased at MSP.
  • The people’s participation needs to be ensured in replenishing groundwater level.
  • The subsidies on the electricity for an agricultural purpose need to be rationalized and efficient water use practices need to be developed and promoted among farmers.
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