Unsustainable: India's water table exisscation for farming

Discussion in 'Economy & Infrastructure' started by Rage, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    Unsustainable: India's water table exisscation for farming - Warnings of an Impending Crisis from Nasa's gravity satellites


    Inviting all serious discussion on measures required, being taken, and their adequacy - or lack thereof - to tackle this issue: private and public, as well as hydrostatic details and technical assessments of the issue at hand ('seriousness', not necessarily equated with punctilious accuracy).


    India's water use 'Unsustainable'

    Thursday, 13 August 2009

    [​IMG]
    Farm in Pusa, India


    Parts of India are on track for severe water shortages. according to results from Nasa's gravity satellites.

    The Grace mission discovered that in the country's northwest - including Delhi - the water table is falling by about 4cm (1.6 inches) per year.

    Writing in the journal Nature, they say rainfall has not changed, and water use is too high, mainly for farming.

    The finding is published two days after an Indian government report warning of a potential water crisis.

    That report noted that access to water was one of the main factors governing the pace of development in the world's second most populous nation.


    [​IMG]


    About a quarter of India is experiencing drought conditions, as the monsoon rains have been weaker and later than usual.

    But weather and climatic factors are not responsible for water depletion in the northwestern states of Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab, according to the Nasa study.

    "We looked at the rainfall record and during this decade, it's relatively steady - there have been some up and down years but generally there's no drought situation, there's no major trend in rainfall," said Matt Rodell, a hydrologist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington DC.

    "So naturally we would expect the groundwater level to stay where it is unless there is an excessive stress due to people pumping too much water, which is what we believe is happening."


    [​IMG]


    State of Grace

    The Grace (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment) mission uses two satellites flying along the same orbit, one just in front of the other.

    Minute differences in the Earth's gravitational pull cause the two craft to shift slightly in their positions relative to one another.

    The mission can measure groundwater depletion because the amount of water in aquifers has a small gravitational attraction for the satellites.

    Three years ago, Grace scientists noted a loss of water in parts of Africa - but the Indian result is more striking.

    "Over the six-year timeframe of this study, about 109 cubic kilometres of water were depleted from this region - more than double the capacity of India's largest reservoir is gone between 2002 and 2008," Dr Rodell told the BBC.

    [​IMG]
    The Grace satellites provide a
    twin eye on Earth gravity


    The northwest of India is heavily irrigated; and the Indian government's State of the Environment report, published on Tuesday, noted that irrigation increased rice yields seven-fold in some regions compared to rain-fed fields.

    Dr Raj Gupta, a scientist working for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), said that the current drought would lead to more groundwater extraction.

    "Farmers receive no rains so they are pumping a lot more water than the government expected, so the water table will fall further," he said.

    "The farmers have to irrigate, and that's why they're pumping more water, mining more water. The situation has to stop today or tomorrow."

    Dr Gupta noted that some farmers might be able to switch from rice to crops that demand less water, such as maize or sorghum.

    But, he said, that would depend on government policies - which have traditionally promoted rice - and on market demand.

    Climate change is likely to be a constraint too, with the area of South Asia suitable for wheat forecast to halve over the next 50 years.


    BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | India's water use 'unsustainable'
     
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  3. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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  4. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Rainwater harvesting is something that can go a long way.

    Checking of illegal borewells used for commercial extraction of water. Ground water levels go down drastically there.

    Above all judicious use of water by all would go a long way.
     
  5. natarajan

    natarajan Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yes yusuf tn was facing severe water shortage and then our cm made rain water harvesting system compulsory and we are now saving 30% of rain water and we never had water shortage after 2004:2guns:
     
  6. ant80

    ant80 Regular Member

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    This last sentence from the article is chilling. The article doesn't elaborate on that, which is infuriating. What type of climate changes will occur? How will that affect the land in question?
     
  7. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Desertification,soil erosion
     
  8. ant80

    ant80 Regular Member

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    The article says "South Asia." What regions would become inhospitable towards wheat production? What percentage of that is in India?
     
  9. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    The entire region of the Punjab in Hind and Pakistan [owing to the large exisscation of ground water], the Sindh east of the Indus [the former and latter both owing in large part due to inefficient irrigation, abysmal urban sanitation, catastrophic environmental degradation, lack of water laws to define water rights and lack of a sound policy on large-scale dams], Rajasthaan [owing to soaring temperatures, even though it presently is a dry state], the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta and Indo-Gangetic plains [owing to the recession of the Himalayan glaciers] to put it in a nutshell.


    Refer to the ''Australia's Dry Run'' article in the April 2009 issue of the National Geographic for an also global perspective on the Water Crisis. India, and South Asia at large, actually seem to have better prospects in the long run than most other regions of Africa, Oceania and Asia.
     
  10. ajay_ijn

    ajay_ijn Regular Member

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    guyz does Govt subsidize drip irrigation systems for poor farmers? or probably give away them for free in regions where rain is below average. that would save lot of water.
     
  11. Sridhar

    Sridhar House keeper Moderator

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    Water wars forecast as feeding India's hungry leaves the land thirsty

    September 26, 2009
    [​IMG] Chatan Singh with his failed crop in Haryana.

    Farmers who can no longer irrigate fear nothing will be left to drink, writes Matt Wade.
    BALAWAS VILLAGE, Haryana: India is destined for water wars, one of its leading environmentalists has concluded after studying the effects of modern agriculture for more than 20 years.
    ''In a decade India could look like Darfur in Sudan,'' says Dr Vandana Shiva, a nuclear physicist turned environmental activist. ''When you run out of water it's a recipe for killing. Water really makes people so desperate.''
    A patchy monsoon on the subcontinent this year has hit crops, particularly rice, highlighting the region's vulnerability to water shortages. But the problem is much bigger than one poor wet season.
    In Haryana and Punjab, two states crucial to India's food security, farmers are drawing too much groundwater. Dubbed the subcontinent's breadbasket, this region has been the heartland of the country's green revolution since the mid-1960s. The high-yielding crop varieties grown here have enabled the country to feed its huge, fast-growing population. But the hybrid crops of the green revolution require a lot of water, as well as fertiliser and pesticides.
    Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are now drilling deeper and deeper for water and the crop yields that once rose year after year have stagnated.
    Last year the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, told an international agriculture conference there was a ''persistent feeling that the first green revolution has run its course … we need a second green revolution''. But a second resource-intensive agricultural revolution is not sustainable.
    An analysis of NASA satellite data taken over north-western India from 2002 to 2008 found aquifers were disappearing at an alarming rate. The study warned of the potential ''collapse of agriculture'' and severe shortages of drinking water in the region unless things changed.
    Associate Professor Raj Kumar Jhorar, a soil and water specialist at Haryana Agricultural University, says too many farmers have switched to water-intensive crops such as rice, wheat and cotton. His research shows that the area of rice under cultivation in Haryana has risen by about 430 per cent since the late 1960s, cotton by 230 per cent and wheat by more than 200 per cent. ''This just isn't sustainable,'' he says.
    A Punjab Government draft water policy document published last year said the state's water was being polluted by industrial waste, sewage and excessive pesticide use in agriculture. ''This can adversely affect the health of the populace and may cause diseases like cancer, skin diseases and miscarriage cases,'' it said.
    These reports only confirm what local farmers already know.
    Chatan Singh, a farmer in Balawas, has planted two crops in his fields since June but both have failed because of the scanty monsoon. A few years ago this would have been unthinkable because tubewells and a nearby canal could have made up for any shortfall in rain. But the canal recently ran dry and the tubewells are suddenly spewing out unusable saline water.
    When this year's rains went truant, Chatan Singh's crops withered, leaving the father of eight deep in debt.
    ''This is new,'' he says. ''Once there was good water from the rains, the canal and the tubewells, but now it's scarce.''
    He and his neighbours now drink the saline water that comes from the ground. Tests by a local university showed it was not fit for regular consumption but the villagers keep drinking. They have no alternative.
    Shiva says water shortages could split communities along deeply entrenched divisions of caste and religion.
    ''What we will start seeing is localised conflicts over water,'' she says. ''As livelihoods evaporate, along with water, you will see all sorts of cracks opening up in society.''
    Conflict is also possible between the majority rural population and the bursting cities.
    ''People with power live in cities and as the water crisis is deepening what remains is being increasingly delivered to the cities,'' Shiva says.
    She is monitoring eight big river diversions to provide cities with more water.
    Farmers in Balawas do not quibble with her prediction of violent conflict about water.
    ''Our wives already squabble over drinking water so when it gets to agricultural water there will be a much bigger fight,'' says one farmer, Jai Singh Sharma. His family owns 16 hectares of land in Balawas but he now plants crops on less than half a hectare because of a lack of water.
    ''Our wells are no longer giving us what we need,'' he says. ''If our water supply keeps receding at this rate we will see violence.''
    At Dauatpur village, about 50 kilometres from Balawas, the farmers are just as pessimistic.
    Kulbhushan Sharma, whose family owns six hectares, says he has been forced to drill his wells deeper, especially in the past five years.
    ''Slowly, slowly, year by year, things are going from bad to worse,'' he says.
    ''If this goes on it will be the end. Forget water for farming - we won't even have any to drink. The whole of India will be affected.''
    There have been bitter fights recently about the dwindling supply of canal water in Dauatpur.
    ''The violence has started,'' Sharma says. Last month a gang of farmers at Aurangabad in the poverty-stricken state of Bihar gained nationwide publicity when they took up arms to guard their watered fields. They said people from nearby villages were trying to divert water towards their fields. They were ready to kill or be killed to protect their water.
    ''We don't want a fight but if someone diverts the canal water then how will we irrigate our fields?'' one of the armed men, Narendra Singh, told a local TV station.
    The Government has been urged to manage water more effectively and to improve the patchy maintenance of the country's vast canal systems. The Punjab Government recently banned farmers from planting paddy rice until after the monsoon arrives in an attempt to save water.
    However, political imperatives have stifled sensible reforms. Water is not priced appropriately and most farmers have free electricity to run their groundwater pumps. This encourages waste.
    As if India's water problems were not enough already, global warming threatens to make them much worse. Scientists predict the annual monsoon, on which about 40 per cent of farmers depend, is likely to become more unpredictable as the country adds more than 20 million new mouths to feed every year. It is no wonder some locals are starting to fear the worst.


    Water wars forecast as feeding India's hungry leaves the land thirsty
     
  12. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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  13. Martian

    Martian Respected Member Senior Member

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    I live near Boston. In MA, water is plentiful because of the Quabbin Reservoir, which has a capacity of 412 billion gallons. See Quabbin Reservoir - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Couldn't India simply build a few Quabbin Reservoirs to solve its water problem?
     
  14. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    The problem is depleting ground water level.

    But for years India has been toying with the idea of linking all it's rivers.
     
  15. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Smaller dams and reservoirs across the river stream and diversion of water from these into small canals for irrigation will solve the problem. This should solve the problem as it will increase the capacity to store more water during rainy season which can be use in summer. The aim should be to not let go river water into the sea wastefully.
     
  16. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    India has the whole Indian Ocean,Bay of Bengal, part of Arabaian sea etc. India can setup desalinization plants in all the coastal areas?? Countries like Saudi Arabia has had much success with these plants

    http://www.water-technology.net/projects/shuaiba/
     
  17. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    There is a massive desalination plant coming up or I think it's operational in chennai. But it's very expensive. Cannot be implemented on a large scale. Unless off course you have loads of petro dollars.
     
  18. ant80

    ant80 Regular Member

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    Any idea on the capital investment required for these types of projects? There's the eternal Kaveri conflict between TN and Karnataka. Having lived in Chennai, I can tell you that there is the Cooum ditch that runs through Chennai. It smells so gross even when we cross the river over a bridge in a bus, everybody can be seen covering their nose. I feel sorry for the ghetto folk that live on the river banks. Is it possible to clean that up to non-health-hazard levels?

    Rivers of India wikipedia page gives a very detailed map of rivers in India. Wikipedia also has a page for the linking of the Indian rivers. Does anyone know what stage it this project in? The BJP started this in 2003, but has the Congress party continued the project? The capital investment required for this is 115billion USD.
     

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