Seminar to focus on declining groundwater table

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Ludhiana, Sep 16 (UNI) A three-day international seminar on 'Water Management for Food Security and Environment Quality' will begin at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here tomorrow.

The seminar will deliberate on the groundwater resources in tubewell-irrigated areas of the Indo-Gangetic plains, where the paddy-wheat pattern has disturbed the groundwater scenario, particularly in Punjab.

The underground water table has declined due to the excessive withdrawal of water. In contrast, the canal irrigated areas have been prone to rising water tables, along with increase in salinisation, PAU Vice Chancellor M S Kang said here today while referring to the issues to be taken up in the next three days at the seminar.

He pointed out that despite expansion in irrigation, 65 per cent of the total cropland area of 162 Mha in India is rainfed. The land in the country is subject to the vagaries of monsoons, drought stress and harsh tropical-climate, he said.

While enhancing water-use efficiency (WUE) is a major goal in agriculture, drought management is the most important strategy to enhance production from rainfed agriculture, Dr Kang said.

Management, conservation and recycling are crucial to sustainable use of water resources in both irrigated and rainfed agriculture.

The challenge of enhancing WUE is confounded by the problem of water quality either because of high concentration of naturally occurring salts in the aquifer or due to pollution and contamination by urban, industrial, and other anthropogenic activities, he said adding these issues are crucial for future of our agriculture.

Dr Kang, under whose patronage the seminar is being organised said a brainstorming exercise on the most alarming subject -- the water decline -- would be the main issue.

The Punjab Director of Agriculture, Chief Soil Conservator, academicians and policy planners are also taking part in the deliberations.

The seminar will focus at reviewing Agricultural Knowledge Initiative (AKI) projects, discussing water management issues with regard to agriculture in India, preparing a grant proposal to be submitted by a consortium comprising participating institutions etc.

According to Dr Jagtar Dhiman, the organising secretary of the event, water scientists from different Indian farm universities and research institutes including PAU; Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University(APAU), Hyderabad; Jawahar Lal Nehru Krishi Vishva Vidayalaya(JNKVV), Jabalpur, G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology (GBPUAT), Pantnagar ( Uttranchal) Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Dr M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, CSSRI, Karnal, IARI, New Delhi, ICRISAT, Hyderabad and CRIDA, Hyderabad would also deliver their viewspoints at the seminar.

Besides, well known US scientists including Dr Rattan Lal and Dr David Hansen from Ohio State University (OSU), Dr Norman Fausey and Dr Laj Ahuja from USDA, Dr Vijaya P Singh from Texas A&M University (TAMU), Dr Joe Monahan and Dr Ramesh Kanwar from Iowa State University (ISU), Dr Dwayne Westfall from Colorado State University (CSU) and Dr Raghu from Purdue University will be the foreign speakers at the seminar.

Former PAU VC and well know agriculture economist Dr S S Johl will deliver a special lecture on planning for water resources.

UNI

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