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India faces a concerning challenge as a new report predicts that groundwater depletion will accelerate at an alarming rate, exacerbated by climate change, between 2041 and 2080. In this article, we’ll explore the findings of this study and its implications for India’s water security and agriculture.
The Escalating Depletion
The report suggests that the rate of groundwater depletion in India during the period of 2041-2080 will be three times higher than the current rate. This dire prediction is closely linked to global warming, as rising temperatures lead to increased groundwater extraction.
Climate Change’s Role
As India experiences rising temperatures due to climate change, the demand for water in agriculture is expected to increase. This, in turn, will result in greater groundwater extraction, even if there are projections of increased precipitation and reduced irrigation use due to falling groundwater levels.
Impacts on Agriculture
A significant portion of India’s irrigated agriculture, more than 60 percent, relies on groundwater. The severe depletion of groundwater in certain regions of India is already a pressing concern. This study highlights that warming temperatures have prompted farmers to intensify groundwater withdrawals to meet the growing demand for crop water.
One crucial aspect noted in the study is the previously unquantified cost of adapting to warming temperatures. While increased irrigation use can offset the negative effects of rising temperatures on crop water stress, it accelerates groundwater depletion. This depletion, in the long run, may hinder farmers’ ability to irrigate their fields effectively.
Threats to Food and Water Security
The consequences of this accelerating groundwater depletion pose a significant threat to India’s food and water security in the coming decades. It emphasizes the need for effective policies and interventions to address this issue.
The report suggests several policy measures to counteract overexploitation of groundwater, including:
- Rationing power supply for groundwater extraction.
- Metering electricity usage.
- Regional water resource development and allocation.
- Incentives for farmers investing in groundwater recharge.
- Reduction or removal of energy subsidies.
Additionally, adopting water-saving interventions such as efficient irrigation technologies and cultivation of less water-intensive crops is recommended.
The research also highlights the potential expansion of the groundwater depletion crisis to different regions of India, including the southwest, southern peninsula, and central India by 2050. These regions face unique challenges due to hard rock aquifers, making recharge more difficult.
Urgent Action Needed
In conclusion, India must take immediate and proactive measures to address the impending groundwater depletion crisis. Targeted policies and interventions should be implemented to safeguard the nation’s ability to irrigate and adapt to warming temperatures.