Weekly Current Affairs

Free power for farmers fuelling water crisis: Environment Minister [Environment]

  • Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change linked the rampant extraction of groundwater to free electricity supplied to farmers and mooted a fresh approach towards rivers and water bodies to impose discipline on water consumption.
  • The Minister backed a call for stronger ground water management regulations made by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, who said free electricity has made people drill deeper to get water for irrigation and is turning large parts of States such as Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana barren.
  • India’s environmental challenges — be it about water or degrading soil quality — are rooted in policy decisions taken without factoring in India’s needs.
  • If the country’s future water problem has to be tackled, then it needs the Gandhian philosophy that others also have a right on water bodies and one must take only as much as you need.
  • Groundwater consumption for irrigation has gone up from 20 per cent in the 1950s to over 64 per cent now.
  • Several parts of States like Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan are becoming deserts as you have gone so deep to drill water that we are leaving nothing for future generations and are actually drilling out poison.
  • In a country, which has 17% of the world’s population but only four per cent of the fresh water reserves, we are consuming three times more water for agriculture than USA, Brazil or China.
  • Soil degradation has resulted from excessive use of inorganic fertilisers like urea, so India must pursue policies based on its own realities.