Biogas tubewells: impact on water

PUNJAB Agriculture Minister Dr Farrukh Javed has said that the government would install 1,000 bio-gas tube wells annually for small farmers on subsidised rates. Two points came to my mind.

First, it is really good that the government is thinking about getting energy from renewable resources. Second, the quality of groundwater in Pakistan is almost destroyed in other provinces while deteriorating badly in Punjab due to excessive recharging of groundwater for irrigation.

In a study conducted by the Directorate of Land Reclamation using GIS technology, it was revealed that over-exploitation in sweet groundwater areas has lowered groundwater tables by two to four meters in some places, resulting in the intrusion of saline groundwater zones into over-pumped sweet groundwater zones.

Now more than 70pc of tube-well water is unfit for irrigation purposes because of high soluble salt concentrations. So on the one hand such initiatives would destroy our groundwater quality while on the other hand it would affect the quality of our agricultural produce.

I don’t really know who are the people behind such policy-making and how much thought has been put before taking such decisions in terms of their consequences but I seriously believe that by shifting our focus more in highly efficient irrigation techniques like sprinkler and drip and by reducing water consumption and thus groundwater exploitation, we can save our groundwater resources for the coming generations.

ENGR IRFAN MAHMOOD Stuttgart, Germany

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