‘Groundwater drawn unsuitable for farming’

AHMEDABAD : Galodara village in Mehsana district had seven dug at the level of 1,000 feet (about 304 metre) out of which five have already dried up. The water extracted from two remaining wells is brackish and not suitable for .
Babubhai Thakor, a local farmer, says that to prevent crop failure, they have started drawing from the local pond. “We remember that the water used to be available at the level of about 400 feet (121 metre) two decades ago. But we are to be blamed. The farmers misused the groundwater without any discretion when it was available in abundance,” he says.

In north and central , farming is a tough exercise with depleting water levels that put several talukas in ‘severely stressed’ category in terms of groundwater. The scenario is slightly better where the primary source of irrigation water is either from canals or farm ponds.

“The villagers used to stop at about 200 feet due to earlier. But with new drilling technology, people are now going about 1,000-1,200 feet nowadays. The water, according to my opinion, is not suitable for farming. As a result, we see a rise in use of fertilizers for the same yield, damaging fertile land. It is a vicious circle,” said Nitin Patel, a farmer from Vadgam in Banaskantha district. Patel added that efforts have been initiated for past couple of seasons for better water harvesting.

Karoda in Patan is also a village where the water table is below 1,000 feet. “We draw the water for farming but it is scalding hot. Even in winters, you cannot touch the water without letting it out for some time. The quality of water has affected the crop — earlier we used to have a yield of about 1,200 kg of BT cotton from one bigha which has now got reduced to 500 kg. Overheads have also increased just to ensure better water availability,” said Lakshmanji Thakor, a farmer. Karoda has reported reduction of 337 feet in water table over a period of 45 years according to the CGWB report.

The last year’s floods in north Gujarat proved a boon in disguise for some parts of Banaskantha. Manabhai Jethabhai, a farmer from Rasana, said that earlier the groundwater was available at about 800 feet through tube wells.

“But after the floods, we draw it from about 500 to 600 feet which is good for drinking and farming. But we have learnt our lesson. A number of farmers have adopted drip irrigation for most crops,” he said.

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