“Groundwater: A Valuable but Diminishing Resource” Report
“Groundwater: A Valuable but Diminishing Resource” Report was released by the Standing Committee on Water Resources. It recommended that the Indian government must take measures to reduce groundwater overexploitation, primarily driven by the wide cultivation of water-intensive crops like paddy and sugarcane. The committee urged the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, along with the Power Ministry and Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, to discourage the use of electric pumps by introducing measures such as pre-paid cards for power supply and restricting power supply to a few hours a day.
Curtailing Free Power Supply
The report highlights that states like Punjab, Haryana, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu offer free power to farmers, which contributes to excessive groundwater exploitation. The committee recommends that free electricity to farmers be restricted to reduce the misuse of groundwater. However, both the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, and the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare are reportedly unable to persuade states to reduce or stop subsidies for power given to agriculture.
Integrated Measures to Reduce Dependence on Groundwater
The committee also asks the government to devise integrated measures to reduce dependence on groundwater in agriculture, given that over-extraction of groundwater is prevalent in northern states, such as Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan, and in other states such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh. The main reason for overexploitation of groundwater is the wide cultivation of water-intensive paddy and sugarcane crops, heavily incentivized through highly subsidized pricing of water, power, and fertilizers.
Shift in Focus to Water Productivity
The committee recommends a shift in focus from ‘land productivity’ to ‘water productivity’ and the formulation of appropriate policy decisions relating to crop production in the country. In addition to land productivity, water productivity, i.e., production per cubic meter of water, should be a major criterion in decisions related to crop production.
Tags: Agriculture Sector • Groundwater • Groundwater Depletion • Sugarcane Industry
Month: Current Affairs - March, 2023
Category: Reports & Indexes Current Affairs
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