Farmer protests: India’s acute groundwater crisis is fuelling distress

Farmer protests: India’s acute groundwater crisis is fuelling distress

India has witnessed high-resolution decibel protests by farmers for some time. The decline in productivity in the absence of adequate remuneration, several reasons that lead this community of 118 million people to the coastline.

But if one has to choose a key problem that aggravates the crisis in agriculture in India is the following: water scarcity.

The situation could be more difficult for farmers in the coming years, as revealed in the history of IndiaSpend: “Extreme rain events in central India, the core of the monsoon rains system and the moderate increase in decline – in The context of complex changes in local and global weather – according to a number of Indian and global studies. ”

In addition, groundwater levels, which provide water to two-thirds of irrigated land in India, also decrease.

The water policy expert, a member of the Planning Commission and former head of several groups to reform the country’s water laws, Mihir Shah, spoke to the depth HT of the water crisis and what India has to Do to ensure a secure future.

HT: You have called for a paradigm shift in water policy in India. What are the problems of current policy and what should be the new scenario for water resources management?

MS: Firstly, we must focus on the sustainable management of groundwater, which is our most important water resource. With 30 million (and counting) of groundwater, India is by far the largest user of groundwater in the world.

It is the groundwater that fueled the green revolution and brought us food security, but today, we run the risk of “killing the hen of golden eggs.” Nearly two-thirds of India are subjugated by hard rock formations, which allow the water to recharge very slowly.

We have drilled groundwater depths, therefore, without taking into account basic hydrogeological. Competitive groundwater extraction has dangerously lowered the water table and water quality, creating an unprecedented water crisis in India. Today, in many parts of the country, our children drink water with arsenic, fluoride, mercury and even uranium. A daily favor train from Punjab transporting patients to medical capitals of India. He enigmatically called “Cancer Express.”

We must evolve an endless extraction towards a participatory and sustainable management of the demand through budgeted crops and water to recover groundwater and continue to use groundwater. One million farmers in Andhra Pradesh gathered to manage groundwater in this way. So the concept of proof is on the ground. We must take it to scale. And this is the only way forward, because we can not polish 30 million wells and wells for licenses and permits.

Of course, this should be complemented by a fundamental shift in agricultural policies, which continue to stimulate the growth of water-intensive crops such as rice and wheat, as both rely on the two crop acquisition operations. Farmers can not be expected to move to less water intensive crops, such as millet and legumes, if they are not guaranteed by a market at remunerative prices. The best way would be to make millet and legumes, nutritionally superior choices, an integral part of SIDI and MDM programs for children and focus our operations increasingly acquiring these crops, creating a win-win for all .

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