The depletion of groundwater has become a concern in India. Our rural areas are majorly dependent on hand pumps for drawing their daily water requirements. As the population of our country is growing exponentially, people are pumping more water, thereby leading to its exhaustion. According to a report by The Hindu, the total groundwater has been depleted by 199 billion in India! This figure is concerning, and people need to take this groundwater exhaustion more seriously!

However, with adequate education and practices in agriculture, we can still avoid more damage. Generating awareness among the rural people is the need of the hour. 

The environmentalist community: Bishnois of Punjab

The Bishnoi community of Punjab’s Bazidpur village has created speculations among the agriculture enthusiasts with their commendable efforts to preserve groundwater. The Bishnoi community is known for their love towards nature and are a strict environmentalist. Instead of cremating the dead, they bury them to avoid unnecessary chopping of trees. Additionally, they use dead timber and wood as their fuel and fodder. 


The Bishnoi community has a population of around ten lakhs that roughly spread around the areas of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and Madhya Pradesh. Their occupations are mostly agriculture, farming, and are also involved in the local economy. Punjab’s water-consuming agricultural practices have weakened the groundwater level. Nevertheless, the Bishnois have managed to retain the water levels successfully. 

Khejri trees: The holy grail for saving groundwater

The Khejri tree, Prosopis cineraria, is a commonly found flowering tree that belongs to the Fabaceae family. Commonly found in the arid regions, this tree plays a primary role in retaining the groundwater levels. 

The major credit for preserving the groundwater levels by the Bishnoi community goes all to Khejri trees. The community understood its importance, and thereby ensured the expansion of its plantation. 


“Khejri trees add a lot of nutrients to the soil and ensure good yields. Plants planted at the edges of these trees are also protected from diseases and pathogens. Dried tree bark has great antimicrobial properties when burned like wood for cooking. The green leaves are rich in oxygen and are rich in lactic acid. The tree produces the most nutritious fodder for our cattle. Every part of this tree has one or more medicinal values,” says Ajay Pal Bishnoi. 

Passing responsible agricultural practices through generations

Rice is transplanted 3-4 times in Punjab every year. To do this, water needs to be flooded for three months continuously through underground tube wells. To regulate this, the national government passed the ‘Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act’ in 2009, which prohibited farmers from planting paddy before the announced dates. Violating farmers face a fine of Rs 10,000 / hectare / month. 

“However, the government continues to promote the extraction of groundwater by constantly providing 100 percent subsidies to electricity and water costs,” said Naveen Poonia (27), a former photographer who now works full-time as a farmer in his ancestral Bazidpur fields.

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