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Issues in Water Sector

Decline in Water Table:

The use of ground water in excess of recharge is leading to fall in water table. As per Jain, 2013, the water table has receded at average annual rate of  0.70 metre(m) all across the state between 2008-12 with a range of water table decline from 0.10 m to 4.0 m. The situation has reached alarming proportion in central Punjab. Out of  73 blocks of central Punjab, the water table has gone down beyond 20 m depth in 34 blocks. The cumulative fall in ground water in central Punjab during last three decades is more than 9 m. The Sangrur and Patiala are worst affected districts. However, water table is rising in some south western parts of the state, where water extraction for irrigation purposes is limited due to its brackish and saline quality. In 2012, the Central Ground Water Authority has notified 45 blocks in state for restricting and banning the construction of new structures for extraction of ground water for any use other than drinking.

Related Graphs:

Ground Water Problems:

Water logged area

200,000 ha

Salinity (EC > 3000 µS/cm at 25 ° C)

Ferozepur, Faridkot, Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar, Sangrur(Area ~1 million ha)

Fluoride (>1.5 mg/l)

Amritsar, Bathinda, Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Mansa, Moga, Muktsar, Patiala, Sangrur

Chloride (> 1000 mg/l)

Ferozepur, Muktsar

Iron (>1.0 mg/l)

Bathinda, Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Firozepur, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Mansa, Rupnagar, Sangrur

Nitrate (>45 mg/l)

Bathinda, Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Mansa, Moga, Muktsar, NawanShahr, Patiala, Rupnagar, Sangrur


Water pollution in Punjab: In Punjab, following are the causes of water pollution:
  • Rapid increase in population
  • Urbanization,
  • Industrialization
  • Agricultural practices

The above stated sources have heavily polluted the fresh water resources of Punjab, both in physico-chemical and biological terms. The industrial, domestic and agricultural wastes accumulate in the aquatic ecosystems and then enter the primary, secondary and tertiary webs of the food chain.  As wastes move along the food chain, these get magnified. During the past two decades, rapid increase in population, urbanization, industrialization and agricultural practices have heavily polluted the surface water resources of Punjab, both in Physicochemical and biological terms by one or more of the following ways:

  • Direct point sources: Transfer of pollutants from industrial and municipal waste water disposal sites and refuse.
  • Diffuse agricultural sources: Run off and soil erosion from agricultural lands carrying chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides.

Cleaning of Rivers of the State: There are three major rivers flowing through the state namely, Satluj, Beas & Ghaggar. The pollution in the rivers is domestic and industrial in nature. The conceptual plan for cleaning of rivers had been prepared in 2008 after identifying the pollution sources.

The Buddha Nullah or Buddha Nala, a seasonal water stream, which runs through the Malwa region of Punjab, India, and after passing through highly populated Ludhiana district, Punjab, India, it drains into Sutlej River, a tributary of the Indus river. Today it has also become a major source of pollution in the region as well the main Sutlej river, as it get polluted after entering the highly populated and industrialized Ludhiana city, turning it into an open drain. Also, since large area in south-western Punjab solely depend on the canal water for irrigation, and water from Buddha Nullah enters various canals after Harike waterworks near Firozpur, thus affecting far-reaching areas such as Malout, Zira, upper Lambi, while the areas being fed by Sirhind feeder, are the most-affected by its pollution. The pollution sources of Buddha Nullah are:

  • Domestic: 500 MLD
  • Sewage Treatment Plants

Pollution in Buddha Nallah

Sr. No.





48 MLD




111 MLD




50 MLD




152 MLD




105 MLD




466 MLD

UASB: Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket                                                                     Source: PPCB, 2015

SBR:  Sequencing Batch Reactor

Related Graph:

Challenges of Water Sector

  • Ever Increasing demand
  • Depletion of Ground Water
  • Canal efficiency below their designated capacity
  • Deterioration of Water Quality
  • Water logging in South-Western districts
  • Potable drinking water accessibility in South-Western districts