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Food Security

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 965–979 | Cite as

Drivers of change in groundwater resources: a case study of the Indian Punjab

  • Sukhwinder SinghEmail author
  • Julian Park
Original Paper
  • 266 Downloads

Abstract

Indian Punjab, a strategically important region from India’s national food security standpoint, is increasingly the focus of attention for academics and policymakers because of serious concerns about over-exploitation of its groundwater resources. Currently, policy makers and agricultural researchers/scientists in India are in a fix to prescribe an alternative, probably more sustainable, crop-mix to farmers that can save water while maintaining farm incomes. Using primary data from 120 farmers, this paper evaluates the current situation of groundwater resources in Punjab, and outlines the major socio-economic factors that have a significant association with the change in the groundwater depth in this region. General ANOVA regression results suggest that groundwater depth varied significantly with respect to agro-climatic regions, crop diversity, and farmer education. Crop diversity had an inverse relationship with groundwater depth whereas the association between farmer education and groundwater depth was non-linear although in the case of Gurdaspur, they showed a direct relationship. In the central zone of Indian Punjab, groundwater level on 92% of the farms had depleted by more than 0.60 m annually between 2000 and 2010, while the current state of groundwater resources in the other two regions was not so serious and are manageable for the time being. However, if the existing policy framework for groundwater resources in the state, which allows the state government to release 0.11 million more connections to farmers, putting much pressure not only on the groundwater resources but also burdening the state exchequer, continues, Punjab may end up losing all its groundwater resources for ever. Considering this alarming situation, one-fifth of the farmers surveyd agreed to delay the sowing of rice by another 2 weeks i.e. up to 30 June which could save the fast depleting groundwater resources in Punjab.

Keywords

Agriculture Crop diversification Socio-economic factors Sustainability Water table 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are indebted to the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading and Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, India for their help in conducting this study. We thank our colleagues in India, especially Professor Manjit S. Kang, Ex-VC, PAU Ludhiana, Professor Sukhpal Singh at IIM, Ahmedabad and Professor R. S. Sidhu, PAU Ludhiana for their reviews and valuable suggestions. Further, we thank all the respondents, especially the farmers, who spared much time to participate in the field survey in the hot summer season.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. and International Society for Plant Pathology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School for Environment and SustainabilityUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.School of Agriculture, Policy and DevelopmentUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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