Special committee recommends steps to check depletion of underground water table in Punjab

     Chandigarh, Sep 14 (PTI) A special committee of the Punjab assembly has recommended several steps, including formulation of a policy on maintaining balance between recharging and extraction of water and an audit of all sectors, for checking the depletion of underground water level in the state.              
     The six-member committee, which was formed to suggest ways and means to replenish ground water level in the state, on Tuesday submitted its report to Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana K P Singh here.          
     Under the chairmanship of MLA Rana Gurjit Singh, the committee incorporated suggestions by experts of the water resources department and Israel-based company Mekorot.
     The Punjab government is already availing services of the Israeli company for checking the depleting groundwater table and replenishing it.
     Addressing the media after submitting the report, the committee chairman Rana Gurjit Singh said, "We have discussed groundwater scenario, role of surface water in augmenting ground water resources and role of state organisations involved in water sector."
     Singh said the committee has recommended that all water related issues should only be handled by the water resources department.          
     Presently, the panchayati raj and local government departments also handle some work related to water in villages and urban areas.
     Pointing towards the water situation in the state, Singh said 14 million cubic metres of extra water was being drawn every year, because of which underground water level was dropping by 70 centimetres per annum.
     He added that 62 billion cubic metres of water was being used every year.        
     "We have recommended formulation of a policy on how to maintain balance between recharging and extraction," he said. "There should be an audit of demand and supply in all sectors, be it drinking water, use of water in agriculture and industry."          
     He pointed out that paddy sowing with traditional technique over the years has led to development of hardpan in soil that stops penetration of rain water.          
     Singh also said a water credit scheme should be introduced to encourage people to use less water.          
     He stressed on equal distribution of water among Doaba, Majha and Malwa regions in Punjab.
     The committee recommended the formation of a special purpose vehicle for micro irrigation to reduce water consumption in the farm sector.
     The Punjab Vidhan Sabha, while deliberating on the issue of depleting groundwater level, had on March 4 this year demanded constitution of a special panel during the session.
     Thereafter, the Speaker had on March 24 had formed a special committee under the chairmanship of MLA Rana Gurjit Singh with MLAs Harparatap Singh Ajnala, Gurpartap Singh Wadala, Hardev Singh Laddi, Raj Kumar Chabbewal and Gurmeet Singh Hayer as its members.
     The Speaker said the report would be sent to the Punjab government for further action. PTI CHS VSD ABM

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)