EcoSikh Expresses Concern about Severe Groundwater
Depletion in Punjab and California
New Documentary Finds More than Half of Northern India’s Water Supply Loss
is Due to Groundwater Depletion
Washington, DC (November 24, 2014) – EcoSikh, a Washington based organization, has raised concern over the severe groundwater depletion of Punjab and other parts of Northern India. This week, 60 Minutes, a renowned news program from CBS News, showed the recent findings through satellite and newly developed devices which track the amount of groundwater. Punjab and rest of the India has lost groundwater at a alarming rate and it is facing a impending disaster.
Dr. Rajwant Singh, President of EcoSikh, citing this news magazine which was relayed on TV across US, said, “The evidence is credible that the food basket of India is in serious danger and this issue should be treated with urgency and with immediate action. This would require a massive awareness campaign and also managing water sources and regulating water usage. This is no longer a political issue. It is a survival of the land which is valuable and is the major food source for India. Similar action ought to be seriously taken by the California government.”
“When people in Punjab do not have access to water because it is being overused, the results will be disastrous,” said India Project Manager, Ravneet Singh. “This problem is not only happening in Punjab, but all over the world. We see this in the United States too. Singh continued, saying that, “groundwater depletion is a major problem for agricultural societies, like in Punjab; they are most affected. Our land, our food, our life depends on food and water. Without water, the future of Punjab is in jeopardy.”
The program highlights how groundwater, which is located beneath the earth’s surface, is being drilled because other more accessible sources of water have dried up due to droughts and overuse. Agricultural work also contributed to loss of groundwater since irrigation uses many water resources. When more accessible water resources are gone, farmers will tap into water that is in the ground.
“Groundwater is like a savings account – something you draw on when in a time of need,” said the CBS News program. “Much of the earth is in danger of a groundwater overdraft.”
Punjab is not the only region where groundwater depletion has a serious toll on the welfare of individuals and the economy. In the U.S., California is facing its fourth year of summer droughts, which has forced residents to take major steps to conserve water, such as not irrigating their land and taking shorter showers.
“Californians are well aware of how much our Earth is suffering. Every year Californians have had to see their lawns go dry, take short showers, and conserve how much water they use because of water scarcity. When groundwater drilling occurs, we are stressing our already low water resources. It is like we are withdrawing from an account that is already in debt,” said US Program Manager, Sumeet Kaur.
Like in Punjab, Californian farmers must find new ways to conserve water, or else face major water droughts that will leave their plots of land like deserts.
Some methods to avoid overuse of groundwater are to shift to using river water, which would allow for underground aquifers to rebound from frequent exploitation. Conservation of water resources, along with planting vegetation that does not require a lot of irrigation are other ways.
EcoSikh’s Punjab Team is actively working to teach locals about how and why they should conserve water and live in harmony with the Earth.
“Our Green Nagar Kirtan is one way EcoSikh is trying to educate the public on how to conserve water resources. EcoSikh recently held a series of Green Nagar Kirtans, the fourth being in Ludhiana, where many stalls used eco-friendly paper plates, and steel glasses to distribute langar. These smalls steps are meaningful toward the overall goal of waste reduction, resource conservation, and living a green life,” said Punjab Convener, Ranjodh Singh.
Sumeet Kaur listed ways by which change can occur ensuring water availability for future. Those are:
Governments need to regulate water usage in India and the U.S.
Governments need to set provisions on how deep water drilling may go.
Farmers need to adopt sustainable irrigation practices.
Educational institutions need to teach students and farmers conservation techniques and sustainable resource management methods.
The Punjabi diaspora should relay environmentally-friendly practices to their counterparts in India by teaching them how to farm plants that use less groundwater.
60 Minutes , the primetime CBS News program that aired nationally across the U.S. this week is available to watch below. This program goes into great detail on how the amount of groundwater has changed over the last decade, the areas that are most affected by water loss, and the root causes of this problem.
If you think we should do something about this damage to our Earth, please consider donating to EcoSikh. Our Punjab Team is actively working toward a solution to these problems that will challenge our generation and our children’s generation. We cannot do this alone.
Dr. Rajwant Singh
Project Manager, India
Program Administrator, EcoAmritsar
Program Manager, North America