IIT Ropar to address the problems of farmers in Punjab

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New Delhi, 22nd August 2017: In order to address the issues related to soil and water, faced by the farmers in Punjab, the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar has allocated 2.5 acres of land in the new campus for setting up a state-of-art Soil-Water-Plant lab. The Civil Engineering Department of IIT Ropar plans to take up objective-oriented initiatives in the area of water resources aimed at addressing problems like falling water table, water logging, deteriorating water quality, floods, droughts, changing rainfall patterns accentuated by impending climate change. Under the project, the department has adopted the Sutlej-Beas Doab Region including the Harike Wetlands (7900 sq. hectares) and wetlands around Ropar region to analyze the falling/ deteriorating grounds level patterns and come out with measures to salvage the same.

The Institute has acquired state-of-the-art equipments including Automatic Weather Station (automated version of the traditional weather station) and Lysimeter (an apparatus for measuring changes due to moisture loss, percolation, etc. undergone by a body of soil under controlled conditions) which would help in determining soil moisture depletion and the consequent irrigation demands in real time. IIT Ropar plans to conduct Lysimeter experiments to arrive at realistic estimates of the groundwater levels in the area. Further to this, experimental farms are being considered for generating optimal irrigation schedules, plant spacings and for analyzing various water saving irrigation models.

Heading this initiative Prof. Deepak Kashyap, Head of Civil Engineering Department, IIT Ropar said, “Depleting water table and the quality of soil & water has been an ongoing issue in the Punjab region. The State being the hub of agriculture in our country, these issues need to be addresses immediately in order to avoid scarcity of resources in future. Our research will lead to outcome driven suggestions, which will be passed on to the State government for implementation. The initiative will be implemented​ at Macro Scale on the Sutlej-Beas interbase and at Micro Level around Ropar.”

Another initiative taken by Institute is computer modeling of the water-system of Sutlej-Beas inter-basin covering important districts of Punjab. The initiative is expected to project scenarios corresponding to various strategies like modifying cropping patterns, irrigation schedules, artificial recharge etc. The projections will also include the impact of climate change on various components of hydrologic cycle in Punjab under relevant hydro-meteorological-geological setups. The study based upon CMIP5 ensemble of climate models, shall incorporate among others, downscaling and projecting impacts on precipitation and evapotranspiration. Specifically, the projections may provide modified IDF curves, snow/glacier melt, riverflow, magnitudes and frequencies of droughts and floods and groundwater resource.

The mechanism of the groundwater pollution in the study area is not adequately known with many camouflaged pollution sources. It is important to identify these pollution sources for devising pre-emptive and salvaging strategies. It is intended to identify the pollution sources in the study area by developing a solute transport model of the study area and linking it to an optimizer.

Globally droughts are prevented by taking recourse to groundwater pumping to meet irrigation and other water demands. Although, ironically drought-preparedness does not feature among the criteria usually invoked for planning of groundwater development in India. This may result into drying up of wells during droughts and hence only partial drought mitigation will be possible. IIT Ropar plans to develop Computer models to check drought preparedness in the area and if a deficit is found, necessary salvaging measures shall be evolved.