Title : Mr. Zakir-Hassan is working as Director Research at Punjab Irrigation Department Lahore, Pakistan. He obtained M. Engg, degree from Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand and currently is a PhD scholar at Charles Sturt University, Australia. He has more than 25 year experience in the applied and basic research fields related to a wide spectrum of
Groundwater in Pakistan underpins the food-security and livelihood especially in rural areas in Punjab province of Pakistan by playing a vital role in irrigated agriculture. Groundwater provides a buffer against supply-based canal water supplies and drought conditions. It is also source of drinking, industrial and other commercial needs. Use of groundwater has increased manifolds since last 4-5 decades and Pakistan has become 4th largest user of groundwater in the world. At present about 1.2 million private tubewells are extracting groundwater to supplement about 40-50% of the irrigation water requirements. Groundwater levels data from around more than two thousand piezometers in the Punjab province have been analysed for last 8 years both from rural as well as urban areas to evaluate the long-term response of Indus Basin Aquifer to the increasing pumpage. It has been observed that groundwater levels are dropping at very rapid rates in most of the areas at the rate ranging from 0.5 ft to 3 ft per year. This has increased the cost of pumping logarithmically. At the same time, quality of groundwater is also deteriorating with the passage of time. This situation is leading to many environmental and socio-economic threats putting livelihood of multitude of tinny rural communities under risk. Major drivers for groundwater over-mining include increasing population; uncertainty in availability of surface water-both spatial and temporal; increasing cropping intensities; deterioration of aquifer quality-due to domestic, agricultural and industrial effluents; lack of regulatory framework; lack of awareness and capacity constraints. This paper encapsulates the causes and trends of groundwater depletions, some remedial measures, and some initiatives taken recently by the government for its sustainable use.