Overexploitation of groundwater seldom makes news in Punjab. A study by the state’s irrigation department points out that 103 of the 137 blocks in the state have abused water resources greatly. Only 25 have safe levels of the precious liquid. This should be a matter of serious concern given the food crisis worldwide.
The state, along with Haryana, contributes almost 90% of wheat to the Central pool, and also a major quantity of rice. This may end if the water situation is not tackled now.
Experts have long warned against the unsustainability of rice cultivation in the state. But, given the price signals sent out by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices in the form of ever higher minimum support price and the mopping up of every grain in the state by the government, this was inevitable.
The answer does not lie in poorly designed solutions such as fines imposed on farmers by the state government for drawing groundwater, but in appropriate price signals.