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Haryana farmers drill borewells, reap drought

Chandigarh: The latest figure of rainfall deficiency in Haryana stands at 74 per cent and the state is facing a unique problem.
The deep borewell industry is booming as farmers dig deeper to tap ground water. But gravity research satellites of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) point out that the drop in groundwater level is alarming in Haryana.
Farmers like Rajbir Singh are busy drilling another borewell in his fields to bring out water for irrigating the paddy crop.
As the water table falls drastically every year, the drilling has to go deeper to find water.
"First tubewell was at 60-70 feet, then at 80-90, then at 120. Now again I am installing a deeper borewell spending Rs 1.25 lakh. I am not sure if we will have water for long," says Rajbir.
Irrigation channels are running dry and wells dug a few years ago have gone dry.
With no option now farmers increasingly use deep bore submersible pumps, which go 400-feet deep for water.
"We have fitted one pump here and are now fitting another one due to shortage of water. There is a drought-like condition and so we are installing a 300-foot deep borewell," says Meghraj Goyal, who owns 10 acres of land.
For pump manufacturers its good business and advertisements of pumps can be found across Haryana.
Paddy forms the mainstay of Haryana and Punjab's agricultural output but it is also a water guzzler.
"Everyone is installing submersibles. At the maximum they will operate for two to three years and thereafter it is going to be a crisis. Water levels are dropping. If paddy goes on being cultivated one day there will be no water. Every one who has three to four acres has put a submersible pump. Even though we are close to the river Yamuna everyone is putting submersible pumps. This is a compulsion now not an option. We can't do without it," says a village sarpanch Dhyan Singh.
Groundwater levels in Haryana and surrounding states are falling drastically, at the rate of almost one foot a year.
There is a tube well for every four acres of farmland which add up to almost 2 million tube wells for about 10 million acres of land in Haryana.
NASA satellite imagery show that 109 cubic km of groundwater has been lost in just six years (2002-08) alone. The a figure is twice the capacity of India's largest surface reservoir Upper Wainganga.
Yet more borewells are being sunk into the Haryana farmlands. Numerous deep borewells dot the landscape in Haryana sucking out billions of litres of water, but the farmers ask a simple question and it is a paradox of choice, either worry about the levels of ground water reservoir or worry about rural prosperity and food security.

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