Intensive farm practices depleting Punjab's natural resources

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Ludhiana, Nov 23 (UNI) Punjab has had to pay a heavy price for making India become self sufficient in food grains as ecological and socio-economical constrains have now become part of agriculture in the state.

The increase in production could be due to the generation of research based farm-technologies, including the development of improved crop varieties and their popularisation amongst farmers.

'' The resource base is not unlimted and intensive farming practices are depleting them and agriculture is showing syndrome of un-sustainabiity, the productivity of the major crops has slowed down and the input costs have increased over the years'', opined Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Vice Chancellor, Manjit Singh Kang, a world renowned crop genetic scientist.

In Punjab, large-scale adoption of rice-wheat has been a major factor in over exploitation of groundwater and currently there are 11.9 lakh tubewells installed in the state, he said while talking to UNI.

The groundwater has been over exploited in the central districts of Punjab and the average fall of watertable in the central part of the state was 54 cm per year during 1993-2003. During 2004-05, annual watertable fall was 74 cm.

Dr Kang was of the view that if corrective measures are not taken, in 66 per cent area of central Punjab, watertable will go as deep as 70-160 ft by 2023. This tremendously increases the energy requirement for pumping water and about 30 per cent of total electricity is used by tubewells, he said while pointing out that water can also be saved through crop diversification.

The VC was of the strong view that the groundwater quality in central Punjab will deteriorate due to its reverse flow.The average gradient of groundwater flow is 30 cm per km from North-East to South-West direction in the state,he said while pointing out that tubewell water quality has already started deteriorating in the districts of Sangrur and Moga.

'' It is feared that soils of these areas will become sodic and will be difficult to reclaim unless canal water is supplied to these areas'', he added with referece to the central districts.

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