The undercurrent of receding water tables is nowhere more palpable than the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh – regions with the highest combined density of dams in India. Maharashtra, identified more for the farmer suicides, has the largest number of dams in the country -1845. Maharashtra is also uniquely placed in the water landscape – with 97% of the arable land having zero irrigation. Andhra Pradesh has 334 large dams while Karnataka has 236 dams. Any other country with this scale of water reservoirs would be in a position to act as a supplier to neighboring regions. The ground reality of northern states (Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan) is that the water table is sliding down by 4cms annually. The receding water table adds to the cost of digging a bore well, not to mention the diminished life span of the well (One well is good for one season only).
Subsidies for What?
Every government has a nationally televised agenda tailor made for the upliftment of the farmers. Subsidies cover every aspect of modern farming – fertilizers, drip irrigation, hybrid seeds and environmentally friendly farming practices. But, with majority of the think-tank content with formulating practices from the comfort of their all-weather cabins, most of these subsidies have been rendered brainless and toothless.
As an example…There is a national subsidy for Drip Irrigation
- Drip Irrigation requires 3 primary elements to work
- These are: Water, Electricity and Drip tools like Sprinklers, drips and sprays
- In majority of the Indian villages, both water and electricity are missing
So, the moot question to the policy makers and administrators at both the center and state level is…
The drip irrigation subsidies are for whom and for what? Very few farmers can get out of the power-water vicious cycle.
The last mile syndrome…
A country possessed with the most benevolent natural resources, the most talented engineering brains and most resilient population and yet – this is the country with the most glaring gap between the privileged and the poor. Some of the largest dams criss-cross the Indian geography, but with very scarce thought to delivering the water to the last farmer in every village. With every drop of water tied to the life and livelihood of the farmers, the beleaguered Indian farmers have no other recourse except to dig deep for water.
Every year the search for water turns more strenuous – While the dams are left redundant with water surplus for only a few privileged villages – and the drought story repeating for the majority of the Indian villages.