Groundwater Irrigation in India: Gains, Costs and Risks
Gandhi, Vasant P.
Namboodiri, N. V.
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Groundwater has rapidly emerged to occupy a dominant place in India’s agriculture and food security in recent years. It has become the main source of growth in irrigated area over the past three decades, and now accounts for over 60 per cent of the irrigated area in the country. It is estimated that over 70 per cent of India’s foodgrain production comes from irrigated agriculture, in which groundwater plays a major role. Since the development of groundwater irrigation has not largely been government or policy driven, this revolution has often gone largely unrecognized. However, despite this huge significance, groundwater irrigation is heading for a crisis in India and needs urgent attention. The number of irrigation blocks considered overexploited is increasing at an alarming rate of 5.5 per cent per year. The number of blocks in which, officially, the creation of wells must completely stop is scaling new heights every year. Yet, the sinking of wells continues rapidly at enormous private, public, and environmental cost. The way India will manage its groundwater resource in the future will clearly have very serious implications for the future growth and development of the agriculture sector in India as well as alleviation of poverty in India.
- Working Papers