2021
  • Non-ICIMOD publication

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Spatio-temporal assessment of groundwater depletion in Punjab, India

  • Balwinder Singh Sidhua
  • Rakesh Shardab
  • Sandeep Singha
  • Summary

Groundwater (GW) is a vital source of water supply for drinking, irrigation, and industry in most parts of India. In Punjab, the adoption of the rice-wheat cropping system has led to a manifold increase in the irrigation water demand, and about 73% of it is met from GW. Consequently, the GW level in the state is declining rapidly due to its overuse and misuse. To conserve irrigation water, the Government has recently taken some initiatives, including enacting ‘The Preservation of Sub-soil Water Act, 2009’, which prohibits early transplanting of rice for reducing unproductive evaporation, and thereby, the irrigation demand. This paper attempts to assess the impact of such measures on the GW depletion between the year 2000 and 2019. During this period, the average GW depletion in Punjab is about 8.91 m, with the highest depletion of about 20.38 m in Barnala district. The depth to the water table maps indicate that the area of the state having depth to water table more than 10 m has increased from about 30% in 2000 to more than 75% in 2019. The water table elevation maps show the development of GW depression cones in areas with excessive over exploitation and thereby, a likely reversal in the direction of GW flow. The time is fast approaching when the state shall have to undertake comprehensive water budgeting and appropriate policy initiatives to address the concerns of the depleting GW trend.