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Rice Production in Punjab: Depletion of Water Resources and Environmental Problems

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Indian Journal of Economics and Development
Volume 16 No. SS, 2020, 294-299
DOI: https://doi.org/10.35716/ijed/NS20-007
Indexed in Clarivate Analytics (ESCI) of WoS

Jaswinder Kaur
Assistant Professor (Economics), University College, Chunni Kalan, District Fatehgarh Sahib, Punjab
E-mail: apjaswinderkaur@gmail.com

ABSTRACT
Punjab has emerged as an important rice-producing state in the country. The state with 1.53 percent of the geographical area of the country produces more than 11 percent of total rice production in the country. The production of rice in Punjab increased more than 10 times due to an increase in area and yield. The growth of a rice crop at such a high rate over 20 years in Punjab is indeed a rare phenomenon in the history of agricultural development in the world. Due to extensive cultivation of rice in Punjab, the state has been over-exploiting the groundwater, more than its recharge. Most of the tube-well dominated districts of the state, witnessed the fall in water table more than 20 to 30 cm per year. To dispose of the paddy straw, the farmers of Punjab generally opt for burning it. This practice of burning of paddy straw besides nutrient loss is posing a serious problem for the public health and transportation system. Rice has now become a problematic crop for Punjab state due to its ill effects on its natural resources, that is, the water and soil environmental degradation. The Punjab Agricultural University experts and other committees estimated that the total groundwater recharge from all sources can sustain/support only 16-17 lakh ha of paddy in Punjab. The area under the crop increased to 29 lakh ha which was unsustainable in the long run. The area under rice in Punjab should be stabilized at 16-17 lakh ha and the remaining paddy area should be shifted to other crops like pulses, oilseeds, maize, fruits, and vegetables, etc. requiringless water, to achieve proper water balance. Thus diversification of some area from paddy is in the interest of Punjab farmers, State government and the Central government for long term food security on a sustainable basis.

Keywords
Diversification, groundwater, environment, over-exploitation, sustainability.

JEL Codes
O13, P28, Q25, Q26, Q56.

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