Irrigation Development and Groundwater Extraction in Uttar Pradesh State: Emerging Issues of Distribution and Sustainability

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2007

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"Tubewell irrigation, through modern water extraction mechanisms (WEMs) has been vital to food security and sustainable livelihoods in India due to reliable and comparatively better efficiency than canal irrigation. Since installation and maintenance require huge capital, its distribution is highly skewed towards large farmers and, resourcepoor farmers have to rely on them for irrigation water, resulting into an emergence of an informal water market. Thus, the present study was an attempt to examine the groundwater (GW) extraction, distribution and productivity under different water market regimes (buyer, self-user, self-user + buyer and self-user + seller) in Central Plain Zone (CPZ) of Uttar Pradesh. An attempt has also been made to examine the sustainability of GW resources in the region. The primary data was collected through multi-stage random sampling from hundred farmers-households of Central Plain Zone in the year 2007. Most of the farmers in the study domain were predominantly small and marginal having less than 2 hectares (ha) of land. These resource poor farmers buy water from the WEM owners, and realizing better crop yield of water-intensive crops like wheat, potato and sugarcane. In terms of productivity of groundwater, Buyer category were more efficient user of irrigation water, as they applied 760 litres water to produce one kg of wheat, 40 and 154 litres of water for producing each kg of sugarcane and potato, respectively, which was much lower than WEM owners. Thus, although groundwater market helped in better realization of their resources to both the groups (Sellers and Buyers), but have various efficiency and equity considerations. Although, the lower use of GW may also be due to the fact that most of the surveyed tubewells were energized by diesel-engine on account of irregular electricity supply in the study domain, making irrigation very costly affair. On other hand, though there has been decline in annual precipitation over the years in the CPZ, but the region has also witnessed a tubewell explosion after eighties. Due to this, according to a conservative estimate, on average, 6 BCM of GW are being extracted every year and until proper corrective measures like change in cropping pattern, expansion of canal irrigation promoting conjunctive use and recharge of this resources are not taken, the region would face serious shortage of even drinking water in the future."

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groundwater, water management

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