Expressing serious concern, Dr Sardara Singh Johl, ex-chancellor, Central University, Punjab, appealed to Punjabis irrespective of the political affiliations to deal with the serious issues Punjab is now facing.
Giving suggestion, Dr Johl said that it is the time to stop growing rice in areas irrigated by tube-wells. “Start growing crops which the farmers will be compelled to grow after the ground water becomes inaccessible. As far as management of rice crop stubbles is concerned, create service centres in private sector with appropriate subsidies having multiple number of super seeders along with other machinery available on charges and to deal with heavy hand with those who burn the stubbles,” he said.
“We are using drinking water of the future generation for crop production, industrial and construction purposes as well as wasting it ruthlessly. This is because water is not right priced and free power has encouraged the water guzzling rice crop. It is estimated that it requires 5000 litres of water to produce one kg of rice,” said Komal Gurnoor Singh, a youth activist.
“I appealed in 1986 through my report on diversification to reduce the area under rice by 20 per cent to maintain water balance of the state, and again in 2002 to reduce the rice area by one million hectares. I got Rs 1600 crore approved from the Central Government, but was lost due to political indifference on the part of state government,” said Dr Johl.
Surprisingly, Punjab and Haryana are quarrelling over water rights, whereas unchallenged Rajasthan, that has no link with Punjab rivers, is getting water more than what these two states get put together. Unfortunately the river waters of Punjab have become a play-ground for vote bank politics of the two states, added Dr Johl.
He suggested dividing available water in 60: 40 ratio as other assets have been divided between Punjab and Haryana.