Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Tuesday said the government has decided to discourage paddy crop sowing as the State was staring at a water crisis due to depleting groundwater level.He said a pilot project will be launched in seven blocks of Yamunanagar, Ambala, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind and Sonipat districts, where sowing of maize and ‘tur’ pulses would be promoted by giving incentives to farmers.“The scheme has been formulated keeping in mind the interest of farmers and water conservation. By diversifying the area of non-basmati paddy into maize under this scheme, the total saving of water is expected to be 0.71 crore cm (1 cm = 1 lakh litres of water),” he said, adding that water depletion has led to 60 dark zones in the State, including 21 critical ones in 10 districts.Saves water, powerMr. Khattar said crop diversification is need of the day for the State as it saves water, electricity and improves soil health. “During the 1970s, maize and pulses were major crops in Haryana, but they have been replaced by water-guzzling crops such as paddy and wheat. To revive the old maize or pulses area, immediate crop diversification of paddy by maize and pulses is our priority,” he said.“Under the new scheme, the identified farmers will be provided seeds free of cost. Apart from this, a financial assistance of ₹2,000 per acre will be provided in two parts. The maize crop insurance premium of ₹766 per hectare will also be borne by the government under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. Also, the maize produce will be procured by government agencies such as HAFED, Food, and Supply Department at Minimum Support Price. Likewise, ‘tur’ seeds will also be provided free of cost to the farmers along with financial incentive,” he said.The Chief Minister also attacked the Delhi government, saying that arrears of ₹100 crore were outstanding against it for the supply of surplus water through the Yamuna river.