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Punjab is an important granary state of India.

Introduction of tubewell and canal irrigation couple with other management practices during the last 45 years has helped in boosting agricultural production and witnessing all round development in Punjab. Presently, all the surfaceand groundwater resources are fully explored. In spite of this, the total water available for irrigationis able to meet less than 75 percent of total water requirement and is expected to decrease further in future to meet the growing demand of other users. Area Irrigated in Punjab Through Diff erent Resources and Extent of Ground Water Development
S. No . 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. 8 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14 15 16 17 Di st r ict s A mr i t sar B at hi nd a Far id ko t Fat e h gar h Sa h ib Fer o z ep ur G ur d a sp ur Ho s h iar p ur J ala nd har Kap ur t h al a Lud h ia na Ma n sa Mo g a Mu k t sar Na wa n S ha hr P atia la R up na g ar Sa n gr ur % A rea Ir rig a t ed Ca na l T ub e w el l 54 46 78 22 88 12 100 37 63 11 88 9 90 1 99 1 99 3 97 24 74 4 96 93 7 4 96 2 97 2 98 7 93 E xte nt o f Gro un d w a te r Dev e lo p me nt ( %) 152 93 106 161 105 107 85 254 204 144 175 178 62 175 165 93 183

Source: Statistical Abstract, Punjab. 2005 It is clear from the t able that al most 100 % of irrigated area in central districts is irrigated by groundwater. In the south -western districts the use of canal water is more than the ground water. During the last decade the average fall of water table in the central Punj ab was o.55m/ year ( Hira et. al 2004).At some places the ground wat er level declined at the rate of even 0.75 to 1m/ year. On the other hand the water table is rising in south - western districts. Kandi area has its own problems of shortage of irrigation water in spite of heavy rainfall. Existing and f orecasted problems of w ater use in Punjab. 1 Faulty croppi ng practices: The primar y r eason for extraction of ground water in the Punj ab is for agricultural purposes. The rice wheat rotation has dramatically boosted the overall grain harvest in Punj ab, but at the cost of ground water resources. 2. Ground w ater depl etion: Ground water comes from under ground aquifers, which are fed from water trickling down through the soil. Agri culture with i rrigation is considered sustainable only if the amount of ground water used is equal to that being replenished. Usually it is extracted much faster than its natural replenishment rate. The state of the World report, 1998 by the World Watch Institute in US A estimates that the gap between water use and sustainable yield of the aquifer is so high that the aquifer under Punj ab could be depleted by year 2025 3. Water Pollution: The quality of ground water has become vulnerable in the number of areas of Punj ab due to intensive use of agricultural chemicals and fertilizers, increased urbanization and industrialization. 4. Waterlogging: Wat erlogging occurs wher e the water table rises close to the surface. Where the drainage has been inadequate, seepage from unlined canals and the over watering of the fields have raised the underlying water table in several areas in Punj ab. Long ter m data shows that water tables are rising in 34% of Punj ab, mainl y in the south -west. 4. Salinity : Irri gation with brackish water causes salt to accumulat e on the soil, and the process is called salinization. This problem is faced in South -western parts of Punj ab because the ground water quality is poor. This is also the reason for less extraction of ground water. 5. Loss of water f rom canal A large amount of water is lost due to seepage in unlined canals and even in lined canals . e. g. in Unlined canals (nor mal soils with so me clay content ) = 15 to 20 ha -m/ day/ million sq.m. of wetted area

Unlined canals (sandy soils with some silt content ) = 25 to 30 ha -m/day/ million sq.m. of wetted area Lined canals 20% of above values 6. Desertif ication: The land is at present intensivel y cultivated under the green revolut ion at the expense of grazing and traditional long fall ow periods. As such, there is a problem of land degradation and water scarcity d ue to over exploitation and the use of intensive agricul tural practices. This will ultimatel y lead to the desertification of Punj ab. To make t he judicious use of w ater resources w e should f ollow the f ollow ing steps: Canal Water Management: The canal irrigation system was scientifically planned about five decades back keeping in view the then cropping pattern, cropping intensit y and ground water qualit y and quantity situations. Since t hen a sea change has t aken place in the cropping pattern, ground wa ter development, cropping intensit y, etc. The l ow water consuming crops like pulses and oilseeds have been replaced with high yielding varieties having gr eater demand for irrigation such as paddy and wheat. 2. On Farm Water Management: It has been experienced that the over all efficiency of the irrigation systems on t he far mers field varies from 30 to 40% which can be increased to 60 to 70 % by adopting efficient water management strategies. a) Precision land leveling: Unevenness in the soil surface adversel y affects the unifor m distribution of water in the fields. Now a day it is possible to do Precision land leveling on the fields, which seems to be leveled with naked eyes, with the help of Laser leveler which gi ves much better results than the earlier devices. Benefits of Laser leveling are: i) More level and smooth surface. ii) Reduction in ti me and water required to irrigate the field. iii) More unif or m distribution of water in the field. iv) More unif or m moisture environment of the crops. v) More unifor m ger mination and growth of crops. vi) Improved field traf fic ability. b) Irrigation scheduling: Proper scheduling of irrigation t o crops is an i mportant component of water saving technologies. A tensiometer is developed by the Punj ab Agricultural Scientists to schedule the irri gation in the paddy fields. The tensiometer can be used by the far mer hi mself. By using this tensiometer we can save upto 30 % of water. c) Improving the conveyance ef fic iency: The water lost in the farms during conveyance from source to the crops can be reduced by adopting Under Ground Pipe Line system. Water lost by seepage and evaporation can be reduced. By installing Under Ground Pipe Line system 3 -4% of l and can be sa ved which can be brought under cultivation. d) Adoption of improved irrigation methods: i) Furrow Irrigated Raised Beds: In this system wheat is planted on the top of the rai sed beds that are superfi cially reshaped for sowing of next crop. Irri gation is applied through furrows bet ween the beds. The main advantage of bed planting is saving in water. About 30 -40% of water is saved in this method. ii) Furrow Irrigation method in wide row crops: Crops li ke mai ze, cotton, Sun -flower, Sugar -cane and veget able s should be grown on ridges and water should be applied through furrows. In furrow irrigation water l oss can be reduced because the wetted area is reduced. Water lost due to evaporation f rom soil surface and due to percolation is reduced to much extent. e) Micro Irrigation: The conventional met hods of water conveyance and irri gation being highl y inefficient has led not only to wast age of water but also to several ecological problems li ke waterlogging, salini zation and soil degradation. It has been recogni ze d that use of modern i rrigation methods vi z. drip and sprinkler i rrigation is the onl y alternative for efficient use of surface as well as ground water resources. The water use efficiency in these systems is much higher than the flood method of irrigation. The scheme on Micro irri gation which ai ms at increasing the area under efficient methods of irrigation vi z. drip and sprinkler irrigation has been launched. f ) In situ Retention of rain w ater : In situ retention of rain water can help a lot in recharging the ground water . Studies have i ndicated that raising of peripheral bunds to a height of 18 -20 cm around the fields could store nearly 90% of total rainwater in -situ for i mproved rice production and reduce the need of irrigation wat er. 1.

g) Mulching: Appl ication of straw mulch i mproves the water use efficiency. It reduces the evaporation losses from the soil surf ace. Mulching keeps the weed down and improves the soil structure and eventuall y i ncreases the crop yiel d. 3. Timely Transplant ing: It is one of the ef fective strategies to ar rest the falling water table in the state. The evapo -transpiration losses can be reduced by 25 -30% by delaying of transplanting of paddy beyond 10 t h of June. 4. Suitable Varieties: Timel y or late sown short duration varieties of crops should be encouraged over early and long duration varieties to reduce evapo -t ranspiration losses. 5 . Conj uctive use of water: At present 30% of total canal water available at the outlet is utilized in the central Punj ab comprising abo ut 49%of the total geographi cal area of the state. As a result there is excessive withdrawal of ground water to meet the irrigation demand of the crops. Increased use of canal water in conj unction with groundwat er in this region will help in arresting the declining trend of water table. 6. Renovation of village ponds f or irrigat ion: The village ponds, which once used to be ver y useful institutions, have now become a nuisance since they have become a sour ce of environmental pollution especially during rai ny seasons. 7.Crop diversif ication: In central Punj ab, large scale adoption of rice -wheat system has been a maj or factor in over exploitation of ground water. Therefore, efforts should be made to divert area under paddy to alternate less water requiring cro ps. The success of crop diversification is possible only if the alternate crops provide r eturns to the farmers not less than being obtained by them from paddy cr op. 8.Artif icial recharge of Under Ground w ater: It is a promising strategy to arrest the declining water table. Various techniques being adopted to rechar ge the gr ound water in Punj ab are: a) Roof Top Water Harvesting: The roof top rain water can be di verted to the existing open/bore well or the rain water from the roofs and the rain water a vailable in the open spaces around the building may be recharged into the ground through the percolat ion pits, recharge trench or recharge wells depending on the conditions. b) Recharge from Village Ponds: Al most all villages of Punj ab have ponds, whi ch have remained neglected over the last many years. So the seepage and recharge in these ponds over the period have been reduced. If these ponds are renovated i.e. de -silted, these could be effectivel y utilized for recharge purposes. It has been estimated ( Chawla et.al.2002) that by adopting such wor k in village ponds in decli ning water table areas, the decline in water table may be reduced by about 5cm/ year. c) Recharge in Kandi Area: In this area the artificial recharge can be obtained by collecting th e surface runoff through check dams hence making additional water available for percolati on. Apart from these gr ound water can be recharged through drains and by increasing the di ke hei ghts in paddy fi eld. 9. Policy Issues: a ) There is need to ena ct proper ground wat er legislation to prevent indiscri minate exploitation of ground water resource. b) Water being the state subj ect, the State Water Authority should be set up with an aim to regulate and control ground water development. Alar med at the dangerousl y worsening ground water situation in many blocks of Sangr ur and Moga districts, the Centra l Ground Water Board has issued a notification seeking a ban on hand pumps, tube wells and other energised sources of water abstraction in these blocks. c) The use of flat rates for electricity combined with unreliable supplies adversel y aff ects the use of ground water. So, there is need to revamp agricultural power suppl y and pricing structure. 10.Organi zing f armer aw areness camps: Far mer is the ultimate use of water So, he should be made aware of the gri ming situation of water resources and the techniq ues of water conservation should be explained and demonstrated to hi m by or ganizing awareness camps Conclusions: The faulty cropping pattern along with fault y agricultural practices has created a hydrological i mbalance in Punj ab. The demand of water is increasing due to increasing population, while the water resources are being exploited mercilessly without thinking f or the future. Strategies for t he rational use of wat er have been discussed which are not difficult to adopt. Now the ti me has come when th e scientists, researchers, ext ension wor kers and far mers should j oin hand to save this precious resour ce.