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

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Subsidy and Efficiency of Groundwater Use and Power Consumption in Haryana

High power subsidy, along with assured minimum support price and procurement by public agencies, has changed the cropping pattern in favour of water-intensive crops, especially paddy, in Haryana and Punjab. This has placed groundwater resources under severe stress and also increased the demand for energy for extraction of water. The continuation of high levels of power subsidy is not allowing crop diversification programmes to take off. It is argued that there is a need for redesigning this subsidy in such a way so as to encourage a sustainable cropping pattern suited to the agroclimatic conditions in the region, and save both water and energy.

The primary data in this paper is based on a report titled “Evaluation Study on Optimization of Agriculture Power Subsidy and Irrigation Water Intensity in Haryana,” submitted to the Government of Haryana in 2016. The authors are grateful to the Planning Department, Government of Haryana, for its financial support, as also to the anonymous referee for comments. The usual disclaimer for errors and omissions applies.

There is a close connection between agricultural production, water use and energy consumption in India. Agricultural production and productivity level depend in large measure on the availability, quality and use of water for assured irrigation. In areas of assured irrigation with good quality of water, the green revolution technology took roots in the mid-1960s, and later succeeded in making the country self-sufficient in the production of foodgrains. Sufficient availability of water for assured irrigation enables the use of high-yielding variety (HYV) seeds, chemical fertilisers and other inputs, to achieve high productivity (Bhalla and Singh 2001). The use of mechanical inputs such as tractors, harvesters, combines and pumpsets increase the speed of work, both in the sowing and harvesting of crops.

In the initial years of the green revolution, the major water requirements of agriculture were met by surface water, diverted from rivers through dams, and brought to farms by a network of canals. But soon, it was realised that canal water was closely connected with the flow of water in rivers, which in turn depended on rainfall and snow in the catchment areas of the rivers. This varied with the monsoon level and weather conditions, proving less dependable than the demand of water by agriculture. It is the quality of irrigation (assured and timely) that determines the productivity and cropping intensity in agriculture (Narain 1988). The farmers in the Green Revolution belt of the country began to dig borewells to be operated by electric or diesel engines in the late 1960s. This became a popular phenomenon with the farmers in 1970s and later periods.

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Updated On : 21st Dec, 2018
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