For a state such as Haryana, which is one of the leading states in terms of agricultural production, rain is the most important resource for better agricultural productivity. Timely, regular rain contributes immensely towards the healthy growth of plants and crops. However, pattern of rain in every monsoon cannot be predicted in advance. If there is excessive rain, it may result in a near-flood situation, and conversely, if the rain is scant, it may result into a drought. Either way farmers are the most affected lot.
Haryana is a land locked state with no perennial rivers running through it. The rainfall here ranges from 300 mm in the south-west to 1100 mm in the northeast. It receives limited rainfall and has derisory natural drainage system. A few of its regions such as Mahendragarh suffer from acute water shortage, where some of its tehsils don't even have ground water available. Continuous demand for making water available from Satluj Yamuna canal has fallen on deaf years. Government seems to be making no headway into the demands of the locals who are heavily dependent on agriculture.
Haryana has a poor canal network with a few parts having no access to surface water. The demand for water in these parts is met from groundwater only. Over the years the problem of low availability of fresh water in the state has been compounded by tough monsoon patterns, which has affected its crop production capacity. Even graver concern is that tube wells that are considered to be a breather to fix the water shortage issues have not helped Haryana come out of this problem.
Over drawing of ground water by private concerns is a cause of concern across the state. This is resulting in water table falling to unwanted levels. This is also resulting into a rise in saline groundwater areas. Parts of the state such as Ambala, Kaithal, Panchkula, Kurukshetra, Sonepat, Rewari and several others have seen a decline in water levels in recent years.
Public and private tube wells supply water for irrigation and other purposes. In 1967, the number of shallow tubewells in the state stood at 27,957, which increased to 557,626 in 1975. Electric pumps-based tube wells also increased simultaneously, touching the figure of 341,729 in 1991. In the same light, diesel pump-based shallow wells stood at 7,767 in 1967, which rose to 235,071 in 1997. These figures are clearly indicative of continuous rise in the number of tube wells in the state.
The state government has utterly failed to address the issue of excessive use of tube wells which is further creating a depletion of ground water. The problem of over exploitation of ground water by private players for selfish gains is already looming large in the state, especially in the regions that are seeing monstrous constructions, such as Gurgaon. The illegal use of ground water was so rampant and easy affair for builders that recently in 2012 Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered the Haryana authorities to seal all tube wells that were illegally drawing ground water. One basic question that arises here is, why the government chose to sit idle and let the wrongdoings go on and on all in front of its own eyes? Why did not it act to stop the misuse of ground water? Are there any more hints required to suggest that both builders and the administration are hand in glove.
Time has come when not only all authorised tube wells must be necessarily equipped with meters to monitor the amount of ground water being drawn through them but also new licenses for tube wells should be issued only after proper verification and checks. If the problem of depleting ground water is not looked into, the day is not far when Haryana will lose out to other states in terms of agriculture production, which will directly affect its farmers. It's time for a Naya Haryana; it's time for a nayi soch.