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    Latest NewsWhy power subsidy in Punjab causes overuse of groundwater reserves

    Why power subsidy in Punjab causes overuse of groundwater reserves


    The power subsidy for agricultural pumpsets in dates back to 1997 when it was announced by the then opposition leader Parkash Singh Badal to one-up the ruling party. While intended to support farmers, it has now become a politically sensitive issue that continues to drain the state's finances and precious groundwater reserves.

    A concerning trend highlighted is farmers irrigating empty fields weeks before transplanting paddy saplings. This practice provides no agricultural benefits and only leads to wasteful water usage. Experts stress the need for judicious irrigation only after sowing to make the most of every drop.

    Statistics show districts with critical groundwater levels paradoxically have the maximum number of tubewells, as farmers are forced to extract water from deeper underground. Some areas report subsides as high as Rs. 15,000-20,000 per acre annually, indicating the grave situation.

    Raising farmer incomes ought to be the priority instead of relying on subsidies say experts. A study found the average monthly income to be a meagre Rs. 26,000 – hardly enough to make sustainable choices. Until policymakers focus on empowering our annadata, the problems will only exacerbate.

    While farmers receive flak, others also need introspection. Data shows industrial and urban usage place an inflated demand on our fast depleting reserves. All stakeholders must come together to chart a prudent way forward to safeguard this vital resource for future generations.

    In the coming decades, as water scarcity rises, Punjab's economic prosperity will depend on using this input judiciously. Holistic and sustainable solutions are the need of the hour to stave off a looming crisis. This is a wake up call for immediate corrective action to restore our depleting groundwater table.

    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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