ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Groundwater Irrigation-Electricity-Crop Diversification Nexus in Punjab

The present wheat-rice cropping pattern, groundwater irrigation, procurement policy, and electricity policy have bound farmers in Punjab into a convenient yet vicious relationship that is economically and ecologically unsustainable. The state government provides free electricity for agriculture and a high minimum support price and yet recommends a shift away from rice to curb groundwater depletion. This paper analyses the trends and turning points in irrigation development in the state, its shifts in cropping pattern, and trends in electricity consumption. It further examines the real-world feasibility of the long-pending recommendation to shift the cropping pattern from water-intensive rice and wheat to less water-intensive maize and wheat.

Socio-economic Implications of Depleting Groundwater Resource in Punjab: A Comparative Analysis of Different Irrigation Systems

The consequences of negative groundwater draft have mostly been viewed as an ecological disaster, but the externalities of groundwater depletion pose greater concern for socio-economic equity in the access to this resource. This empirical analysis signifies the concerns for the livelihoods of farmers, when the cost of depletion is disproportionately borne by the resource-poor farmers as they are unable to invest in capital and technology and are hence denied the benefits of groundwater irrigation that is subsidised by free electricity. This situation is perpetuated with further scarcity leading to unequal economic returns and, finally, takes the most exploitative form where the "large landlords" also emerge as "water lords" through surplus accumulation, forcing the small and marginal landholders to become landless agricultural labourers.
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