A 2020 block-wise groundwater resources assessment by the Central Ground Water Board found that most of the districts in Punjab had over-exploited the groundwater levels. In some districts, the groundwater level was marked as critical.
Groundwater extraction in Punjab has already reached 150 metres-200 metres in most places in central Punjab. If the present depletion continues, Punjab’s groundwater is expected to drop below 300 metres by 2039, as per Central Ground Water Board.
Experts warn a major threat to India’s food security if Punjab’s groundwater goes dry. Phasing out paddy and remodelling British-era canal systems to improve canal-based irrigation techniques are being recommended as possible solutions.
Last month, a monitoring committee of the National Green Tribunal reviewed the district environment plan of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district (formerly Nawanshahr district). The committee laid stress on the depleting groundwater levels and announced that usable groundwater is available till the threshold limit of 300 metres (1,000 feet), beneath the ground.
Balbir Singh Seechewal, a noted environmentalist and member of the National Green Tribunal panel that met last month, told Mongabay-India that their prediction about “groundwater depletion in 17 years” was not based on hearsay.
It came from Central Ground Water Board’s 2019 report which studied Punjab’s groundwater situation till 2017. The report states…