Groundwater Depletion impact on Cropping Intensity – UPSC GS3

  • India is the world’s largest consumer of groundwater.
  • India is also the second-largest producer of wheat in the world with over 30 million hectares in the country dedicated to producing this crop.
Impact of Groundwater Depletion on Cropping Intensity:
  • With severe groundwater depletion, the cropping intensity or the amount of land planted in winter may decrease by up to 20% by 2025.
  • 13% of the villages in which farmers plant a winter crop are located in critically water-depleted regions.
  • These villages may lose 68% of their cropped area in the future if access to all groundwater irrigation is lost. The losses will largely occur in northwest and central India.
Reasons for Groundwater Depletion in India:
  • The Green Revolution enabled the cropping of water-intensive crops like rice in water deficit regions such as Haryana and Punjab.
  • Increased demand for water for domestic, industrial, and agricultural needs together with limited surface water led to the over-exploitation of groundwater resources.
  • Frequent pumping of water from the ground without waiting for its replenishment leads to quick depletion.
  • Subsidies on electricity and high Minimum Support Price(MSP) for water intensive crops.
  • Inadequate regulation of groundwater laws encourages the exhaustion of groundwater resources without any penalty.
  • Post-harvest burning of crops, deforestation, unscientific methods of agriculture, chemical effluents from industries. It also led to pollution of groundwater making it unusable.
Way Forward:
  • There are enough groundwater resources with higher monsoon rainfall in eastern Indian states like Bihar.
  • But due to lack of enough irrigation infrastructure, farmers are not able to make use of natural resources there.
  • Hence, we need better policies in eastern India to expand irrigation and thus increase agriculture productivity. This will also release some pressure from north western Indian states.
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