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Punjab CM to convene all-party meeting on depleting underground water table

twitter-logoPTI | August 5, 2019 | Updated 17:57 IST

Chandigarh, Aug 5 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday said he would convene an all-party meeting to frame a strategy on fast depleting underground water table, saying the water situation is "critical" in the state. During the Question Hour, he ruled out any change in the date of transplantation of paddy in the state from June 20 to June 1. "The transplantation date has been advanced to June 13 this year only on experimental basis and there is no proposal under his government's consideration for permanently altering the date of transplantation of paddy," he informed the House. His remarks came in response to a question of AAP MLA Kultar Singh Sandhwan who sought whether there was any proposal under consideration of the state government to change the date of paddy transplantation from June 20 to June 1. The chief minister said he would soon convene an all-party meeting to evolve a comprehensive strategy to stop the reckless use of groundwater, and to change the cropping pattern to ensure water conservation. He appealed to all parties to rise above political affiliations and unite in the face of the critical water situation in the state.         Amarinder Singh pointed out that Punjab was facing acute shortage of water, which with even the Eradi Commission having assessed the river water level at 17.1 Million Acre Feet (MAF) at the time of its evaluation. The level had since gone down further to 13 MAF, he said, adding that the problem had been aggravated as a result of the melting of glaciers, coupled with the greenhouse effect.         Expressing concern over the fast depleting groundwater level, the chief minister cited the Dynamic Ground Water Estimation Report 2017, published in 2019, to observe that the number of blocks falling under over-exploited category (where groundwater abstraction exceeds recharge) stood at 109 out of the 138 study blocks in the state. The groundwater level is depleting in about 85 per cent of the state and the average yearly rate of fall of water level is about 50 cm per year, he added. Amarinder Singh said earlier long-duration varieties of paddy were sown in Punjab but new short to medium duration varieties of paddy, introduced by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), were taking fewer more days to mature and require lesser irrigation. These new paddy varieties like PR 126, PR 124, PR 127, PR 121 and PR 122 were now being sown in 83 per cent of the area and were maturing, on an average, in 110 days, he said, adding that marketing of these varieties was not a problem either. PTI CHS VSD SNE SNE

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