LAHORE -  the Punjab government has decided to install around 80,000 solar pumps for irrigation needs, the experts believe that already slipping down ground water level will further go down by one to three meters in one year in areas where new pumps would be installed. They have suggested that instead of spending billions of rupees on installation of new tube-wells, the government should first attach the already existing pumps with drip drop, tunnel and sprinkle irrigation system to avoid water flooding. The provincial government has allocated Rs1.36 billion for installation of solar tube-wells this year. Overall Rs7.5 billion would be spent in coming years to provide pumps to farmers having land from five to 12.5 acres. Statistics reveal that imprudent use of water resources has already resulted in multiple challenges for the country. Water availability, which stood at 5,300 cubic metres per person per year in 1950, dropped to almost 1,000 cubic metres in 2012, touching the globally set water scarcity level. No awareness campaigns for water conservation in urban and rural areas are being run by the government. A geographer Dr Munawar Sabir suggested the government should check the overall working of solar tube-wells with different high-efficiency irrigation systems such as drip and trickle irrigation. “Yes, the solar tube-well will be economically viable for the farmers but they must be attached with latest irrigation methods instead of old ones,” he held. “Water availability will further go down in coming years because of massive water wastage through water flooding, evaporation and growing population and if the trend is continued the average agriculture produce in the country will drop 25 per cent by 2050,” he predicted, adding it would result in increased poverty and food shortage. Over one million tube-wells run in Pakistan including 750,000 diesel-based and over 70,000 electricity-based in the province alone. The Punjab government should go for modernise the already existing pumps, it was emphasised. Over-pumping is depleting the ground water resource while 5,000 million gallons of used and untreated waste water is discharged into rivers and lakes, polluting the source for recharging the ground water. Munawar said the developed countries now started to cover canals to avoid evaporating of water but things were run opposite side in the country. An official of the Irrigation Department said: “Over 60 per cent water goes waste through the old system run in our country. The provincial government should updated and modernise the existing system for the time being instead of going for new experience.”