Context: Recently, a report was prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General which reveals that almost half of the groundwater in Punjab is unsafe and contaminated with hazardous chemicals, heavy metals, and radioactive material.
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- 40 per cent of the groundwater in the state is contaminated with chemicals and heavy metals beyond permissible limits.
- 10 per cent of it is unsafe even for irrigation purposes.
- 30 per cent is marginally to moderately saline/alkaline, but can’t be used by humans.
- The quality of groundwater is classified as fit, marginal and unfit for agricultural use on the basis of electrical conductivity and residual sodium carbonate.
- In 16 districts, fluoride was above the permissible limit (which is 1.5 mg in 1 litre); in 19 districts, nitrate (was above 45 mg in one litre); in six districts, arsenic (was above 0.05 mg) and in nine districts, iron (was above 1.0 mg).
- Punjab has the maximum percentage of wells showing depletion in groundwater and figures among the top 10 worst-affected Indian states (pre-monsoon data 2018).
- Punjab is extracting water from the ground at the highest speed in the country.
- Paddy sowing is the main culprit.
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