According to the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) which is going to release its annual report next month, groundwater levels declined in the range of 0-2 meters in 57% of the area, 2-4 meters in 8% of area and more than 4 meters in 1% of the state.
The decadal mean fluctuations (2006-2015) shows decline in 75% of observation wells monitored covering about 81% area of the state. The decline has been observed across Punjab and there is dip of 2-4 meters in 20% of the state's area.
At the same time, says S K Jain, regional director of CGWB, there has also been rise in water levels in 35% of wells monitored, which cover 33% area of the state. "The efforts to convince farmers to delay their paddy cropping could be a factor," he said.
Water levels have risen in Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Jalandhar, and Mohali. The positive trend is based on data collected in August 2016, and it was also observed in all the districts of southwestern parts of the state.
Irrigation experts, meanwhile, point out that the rise in water table in particular pockets could be due to the poor quality of water, which results in locals turning to other alternative sources. "Unless the state government goes in for some unpopular policy decisions such as removing power subsidy and capping boring of tube wells, things will not improve," said environmentalist.
Very shallow water levels of 0-2 m (causing waterlogging) occur in more than 1% of wells and is spread over 1% of the state in south-western parts in Muktsar and Fazilka districts. Water levels between 5-10 m have been observed in the northern part (Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Hoshiarpur districts), south and southwestern parts (Fazilka, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Muktsar, Bathinda and Mansa districts), eastern parts of Ropar and Mohali districts.