|DEPARTMENT OF SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION, PUNJAB|
NEW INITIATIVES BY DEPARTMENT
Punjab has a total geographical area of 50.36 lacs hectares. Out of which, 42.68 lacs ha area is under cultivation. It is one of the most intensively cultivated and irrigated areas of the country. Here, nearly 84% of the total geographical area is under agricultural use. About 20-30 percent area of Punjab is suffering from different kinds of soil degradations. Any further expansion in the cultivated area will be marginal indeed. The water table is gradually Govt. of Indiang down in most parts of the state. Therefore, major thrust in agricultural development strategy lies in enhancing the agricultural production through a series of measures like optimization of area suited for intensive agriculture, better water management and reclamation of degraded soils. Apart from degradation of soils due to temporary surface water logging, floods, there are area which are affected by sub-surface water logging, high ground water development and scarcity of good quality irrigation water. The soils in the State of Punjab is facing severe degradation because of many reasons, which includes soils erosion, raising water table, salt affected soil, over use of chemical etc. About 39% of the Soils in the State are degraded. The Shiwaliks receive about 1100 mm of annual rainfall every year as compared to 500 mm in Southern Zone and 730 mm in Central Zone. About 80% of the mean annual rainfall is received in three monsoon months. The total water resources available are 31 Lacs Hectare metre, surface Canals provide 14.5 Lacs Hectare metre and ground water recharge (rains ands canal seepage) provides 16.8 Lacs Hectare metre of water. The demand of water for agricultural purposes is 43.7 Lacs Hectare metre and the excess demand of 12.4 Lacs Hectare metre is met through over-exploitation of ground water resources. Though there is not much change witnessed in the last few years in the surface water resources, the underground water resources have deteriorated to a large extent especially as a result of Paddy-wheat cycle followed during and after Green Revolution. The ground water is Govt. of Indiang down by 30 cm per year. It is declining in 77% area of the state where ground water quality is good and canal water is limited. The area of Central Punjab where water table has gone down below critical depth of 10m was 3% in 1973, 25% in 1990 and 46% in 1994. This calls for urgent steps to conserve the available ground water and increasing the recharge of ground water resources.
This department is serving the state since the year 1969 for conservation of 2 important natural resources of soil & water. Till date, the department, through various Govt. of India/State schemes, has benefited 746637 hectares of land by way of various activities like Land leveling, Bench Terracing, Underground Pipeline Systems, Contour bunding, Gully Reclamation, Waste land development, Watershed Management, Water Harvesting Structure, Tapping of Hill Seepage, Lift irrigation schemes including Hydrams, Field Drainage, Drip Irrigation etc. These works are also helping to save approx. 329 Million Cubic Metres (MCM) of water every year. In the absence of these works, the surface & ground water resources would have suffered greater losses as this quantity of water was to be drawn out of them only. For the current year of 2004-05, the department has fixed a target of 14750 hectares that will help in saving & recharge of a minimum of 3.69 MCM of water by the implementation of its state plan and centrally sponsored schemes. Also, through these additional works with financial assistance from other Govt. of India/State departments/ agencies, the department, intends to benefit an area of approx. 22700 hectares and may help in saving & recharging approx. 10.40 MCM of water. Though a provision of Rs 4523 Lacs has been made for carrying out these soil & water conservation works in the state in the year 2004-05, there is a little possibility that these funds shall be fully released to the department. therefore, the department has started some new initiatives in the current year to arrange funds from the sources other than the State Govt. Some of the major initiatives of the department in the year 2004-05 are as follows:
a. Ground Water Recharging
To keep a check on the continuously degrading ground water resource in Punjab, Ground Water Recharging is the only solution. Out of the total 138 of the state, 93 blocks have turned Dark where the under ground water development has crossed 100%. Under this scheme, funds are taken from Central Ground Water Board for installing ground water recharging projects in the affected districts especially Patiala, Sangrur and Ropar. Earlier, these projects were undertaken on experimental basis but from the current year, such projects have been given special emphasis by including them in a special Integrated proposal of soil & water conservation. A massive project for ground water recharging in Distt patiala is in progress and many more will follow
School-wise detail of progress of Ground Water Recharging Project in Patiala district.