Concerned over depleting groundwater in Punjab, some NGOs with the support of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) have decided to launch a campaign to make farmers aware about the judicious use of water in farming. The campaign has been themed as 'Jal Jeevan Hai' (water is life).
The campaign was started in Muktsar and Fazilka districts on Saturday and it would be launched in Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot on Sunday. Under the campaign, the NGOs will train 'jal doots' (water messengers), who will visit the villages of these districts and make farmers aware of the fact that how excessive use of water will prove disastrous for the coming generations. They will prepare them for the restrictive use of water in the presence of opinion leaders of the villages.
At Muktsar and Fazilka, NGO Progressive Youth Forum of Ghagga (Patiala) and in Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot, Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM) of Jaito have come forward to support Nabard. Progressive Youth Forum director Kulwinder Singh Dhaliwal and Nabard officials on Saturday trained 50 'jaldoots' in Muktsar and asked them to go to villages and meet farmers.
The water table is depleting by nearly 80cm every year in Punjab due to excessive use at every level, especially because of paddy cultivation, said a Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) official. "The situation is so grave that out of 145 blocks in the state, 110 have been declared as over-exploited, which fall in the category of dark zones and 45 fall in the red zone, where as per law, water only for drinking purposes could be pumped. Any block is notified when pumping is more than recharge," said the official.
"Water table is plummeting at an ever increasing rate and the groundwater recharge is negligible due to run-offs. Given the huge scale of the problem it becomes imperative that the masses take initiative in solving the water crisis in their neighbourhood by harvesting rainwater for drinking and groundwater recharge," said KVM executive director Umendra Dutt.