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Water

The state has highest net irrigated area (percentage) in India and the agriculture sector accounts for about 85% of water consumption in the state. During 2017-18 (P) out of the total area of 4125 Th. ha under agriculture in state, an area of 4124 Th. ha (99.9%) is getting irrigated from canals and tube wells. However, there has been a significant reduction in canal irrigated area in the state since 1990-91 it has decreased to 1176 Th. Ha in 2017-18(P) from 1669 Th. Ha in 1990-91. Whereas the area irrigated by centrifugal tube wells has been increased to 2948 Th. Ha in 2017-18(P) from 2233 Th. Ha in 1990-91. This is due to increased demand of water, reduction in canal capacity due to siltation and the easy credit facilities for tubewell installation with some subsidy, besides liberal facilities for electrification of tube wells.  Further, the number of tube wells in the State has increased from 10.73 lac in 2000-01 to 14.76 lac in 2018-19, on account of tube wells operated on electricity increasing from 7.88 lac to 13.36 lac during the same time period. While the reduction in diesel operated tube wells is better for the environment, however, excessive extraction of groundwater does not support sustainable agriculture practices.

This has caused the depletion of the underground water table. Groundwater extraction is more than 100% in Punjab implying that groundwater consumption exceeds annual extractable sources. A state-wise assessment of the groundwater resources in the country showed that 80% of 138 blocks assessed were ‘Over-exploited’, 2 blocks were ‘Critical’, 5 were ‘Semi-Critical’, and 22 were ‘Safe’. The Ministry of Jal Shakti in 2019 has highlighted that 95% of the water extracted was for irrigation purposes. Further, because of the declining water table, the farmers are compelled to deepen their tube wells at their own cost, as the ordinary tube wells become obsolete due to their inability to draw underground water. Therefore, farmers are increasingly shifting over to submersible pumps. The submersible pumps are expected to raise the cost of cultivation and iniquitous use of groundwater. With increasing costs of irrigation, the marginal farmers are expected to be left vulnerable to the impacts of a declining water table. 

The solution to above problem is to promote the micro-irrigation system, comprising of sprinkler and drip irrigation to enable precision farming by making water available in a targeted manner and the Government of Punjab is continuously taking steps in this direction.

Net irrigated Area in Punjab (source-wise)

            Source: Statistical Abstract of Punjab, 2019                                 

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