Groundwater irrigation in Punjab: some issues and way forward

Groundwater has played a key role in success of Green Revolution in India especially in original Green Revolution states comprising Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh (UP). Data from minor irrigation census 2011 shows that the three states (Punjab, Haryana and UP) account for 55 percent of the tube wells in India. On an average there are 28 tube wells per sq. km. of net sown area in Punjab alone. Punjab is a predominantly agricultural state having 85 per cent of its area under cultivation with an average cropping intensity of 188 per cent. The water demand from agriculture in the state is therefore very high. This paper in this context asks three questions. Why is ground water under so much stress; what has been done in Punjab and other states to address this; and what evidence and insights does the empirical literature provide on water demand and supply dynamics. Based on these analyses the paper identifies the main issues and suggests a way forward in this context.

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