Growing role of Groundwater in Indian irrigation in transition


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Groundwater provides 65% of India's water needs. Dr Tushaar Shah is one of India's foremost researchers on groundwater. This is a presentation at a groundwater conference in Pune organized by ACWADAM and supported by Arghyam.

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Growing role of Groundwater in Indian irrigation in transition

  1. 1. Acwadam Groundwater Conference May 21-22, 2009, Pune Growing Role of Groundwater in Indian Irrigation in Transition: : Needed Transition from Surface to Aquifer Storage? Tushaar Shah International Water Management Institute
  2. 2. Evolution of Indian Irrigation: Era of adaptive irrigation-upto 1830 • Community was the unit of irrigation management % Contribution to aggregate Farm output and incomes Rainfall and Soil moisture Flow irrigation from tanks, canals, rivers Lift irrigation from wells and surface sources % of water consumptively used in agriculture
  3. 3. Evolution of Indian Irrigation: Era of canal construction-1830-1970 • State emerged as the architect, builder, manager of irrigation Soil moisture management % Contribution to aggregate Farm output and incomes Flow irrigation from tanks, canals, rivers Lift irrigation from wells & surface sources % water consumptively used in agriculture
  4. 4. Evolution of Indian Irrigation: Era of atomistic pump irrigation-1970-todate Individual farmer as the irrigation manager % Contribution Soil moisture management To Farm output & incomes Flow irrigation Pump irrigation from groundwater % of water consumptively used in agriculture
  5. 5. India is the world’s largest user of groundwater in agriculture in the world. 300 250 India has over 20 c u b ic k m / y e a r 200 million irrigation wells. We add 0.8 150 million/year. 100 50 Every fourth cultivator owns an 0 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 irrigation well; non- owners depend on groundwater US W.Europe Spain Mexico China India markets. Pakistan Bangladesh Sri Lanka Vietnam Ghana South Africa Tunisia
  6. 6. 5000.00 10000.00 15000.00 20000.00 25000.00 30000.00 0.00 Ae a n z rb ija 0 0h 0 a P ru e Np l ea Ey t gp P ilip in s h p e K re , D m e p 's o a e P o le Iraq Su A a o th fric T n ia u is U b k ta z e is n a a h ta Kz k s n fg a is n A h n ta M ro c o co A e tin rg n a Cb ua Y mn e e other sources) J pn aa B z ra il S ria A bR p b y n ra e u lic T rk y u e India also has the largest area Su iA b a d ra ia Mx o e ic B n la e h ag ds under groundwater irrigation in the world. Ira , Is m R po n la ic e f P k ta a is n Groundw ater irrigated area in countries w ith intensive groundw ater use in agriculture (FAO Aquastat 2003 and UA S C in h a In ia d
  7. 7. Over half of India’s irrigation pumps were installed after 1990.. 1970 Pre- -80 1970 India’s Groundwater Juggernaut is still Accelerating!!! 1980-90 After 1990
  8. 8. Until 1970, canals dominated irrigated agriculture; since then, tube wells have emerged as engines of agricultural growth. 60 1970-73 % A i uuaGP o g c l rl D 40 f r t 20 0 1 21 41 61 81 101 121 141 161 181 201 221 241 Districts 60 1990-93 Pre t g t Ar u ua GP ec na e o gi l r l D 40 ct 20 0 1 21 41 61 81 101 121 141 161 181 201 221 241 Districts % contribution of SWI to Agricultural GDP % contribution of GWI to Agricultural GDP
  9. 9. India’s groundwater story Unique, as are its drivers. We need to invent our own GW use moves inversely Solutions. With resource endowments Long-term average groundwater recharge The only region where humid areas India is the only country depend heavily on where hardrock aquifers groundwater. are exploited on such a large scale Source: Döll, P., Lehner, B., Kaspar, F. (2002): Global modeling of groundwater recharge. In Schmitz, G.H. (ed.): Proceedings of Third International Conference on Water Resources and the Environment Research, Technical University of Dresden, Germany, ISBN 3-934253-17-2, Vol. I, 27-31
  10. 10. Growth in Population Density around he world (people/km2) , 1700 – 1990
  11. 11. Expanding Cropland 1700-1990 Fraction of grid cell in croplands
  12. 12. Drivers of Atomistic Irrigation: Ghettoization of India’s Agriculture Shrinking of operated farm holdings in India Small-holders add most to groundwater irrigation (Source: NSS reports) (Source: Agri. Census 3 450 2.63 ir rig a t e d a re a s : 1 9 7 0 - 7 1 = 1 0 0 2.5 400 % g ro w t h in g r o u n d w a t e r 2.2 350 India’s groundwater boom is 2 300 1970-71 1.67 250 1976-77 1.5 ha 1 in some respects a response to 1.34 1.06 200 150 1980-81 0.5 Disguized unemployment in agriculture. 100 50 1985-86 1990-91 0 0 1995-96 1960-61 1970-71 1981-82 1991-92 2002-03 Marginal (<1 Small (1-2 ha) Medium (2-10 Large (>10 ha) ha) ha)= (17th) (26th) (37th) (48th) (59th) Farm holdings The compelling advantage of pump irrigation is that it enables water-scavenging at will. Instead of adapting agriculture to Irrigation system, it adapts irrigation to farming system.
  13. 13. Our irrigation planning is preoccupied with food grains; Indian farmer is diversifying in a hurry. Figure Changing structure of Indian agricultural Canal and tank irrigated production areas condemned to low- value crops unresponsive to 100% 3 precision irrigation. 4 4 6 7 90% 11 10 13 % of value of agricultural output 16 19 Much diversification is 80% 21 21 Occurring outside 70% 21 21 Command areas (IFPRI). 60% 28 50% Much diversification 40% Requires small dozes of 30% 65 66 62 Year-round, on-demand 57 46 Irrigation. 20% 10% Value added farming 0% Will expand with 1961-62 1971-72 1981-82 1991-92 2000-01 Waste-water irrigation and Field crops, sugar, fibres High value crops Milk Other livestock Groundwater.
  14. 14. Classes of Irrigators in India Rented diesel pump Own diesel pump Gross revenue & Own and Electric pump Irrigation cost/ha rented gen- Own electric pumps sets purchase 15-18 million canals & tanks Marginal farmers 7-8 and share cropper families mha 10-12 12-15 mha mha 30-32 mha 20-22 mha Million ha of irrigated area
  15. 15. Consequences of Groundwater Boom The problem is: We neither manage The supply side nor The demand side. •Groundwater depletion and decline in drought resilience •Quality degradation and public health hazard •High energy costs and unsustainable farming •4% of India’s GHG by pumping •Challenge of adapting to Climate Change
  16. 16. Rethinking Storage India’s Water Challenge India has built some 270 billion m3 of surface storage which is proving a dead-weight. It irrigates only 15-16 m ha while the same amount of groundwater irrigates 4 times more. No matter how much we invest in surface storage, India’s dependence on aquifer storage will continue to increase. RWH, Groundwater Recharge and Conjunctive management of rain, surface and groundwater should be the new mantra of water management. Recharge projects should be done with people’s participation but with strong science input. Retrofitting canal systems as piped systems delivering pressurized irrigation or recharge needs to be considered.
  17. 17. Figure Response of Monsoonal Recovery in Water Level to Pre- monsoon Depth to Water Level Figure 4: Aquifer Recovery and Pre-monsoon Water Level in 145 Districts of India: Minor Irrigation Census 1993-94 700 1200 600 1000 500 800 400 Feet feet 300 600 200 400 100 200 0 0 1 19 37 55 73 91 109 127 145 163 181 199 217 235 253 271 1 21 41 61 81 101 121 141 272 Sample Villages: IWMI Survey of India, Pakistan, Nepal 145 district in ascending order of Pre-monsoon water table and Bangladesh Pre-monsoon Water Level (feet) Monsoonal Rise in WL (ft) Pre-monsoon Water Table Monsoonal Rise in Water Table (ft) • What factors influence monsoonal recovery in groundwater levels most? • Pre-monsoon depth to the water level, regardless of rainfall pattern and hydro-geology. • This was strongly supported by our survey data. • It was also strongly supported by 1995 Minor Irrigation Census data. • Implication? • to a certain extent groundwater availability increases with resource development.
  18. 18. National Groundwater Recharge Master Plan developed by the CGWB aims to recharge 36 BCM by investing Rs 25000 crore..BUT Uncommitted surplus water available for recharge Low Distributed RWH High and groundwater recharge can be a big Pressure on Low Neither needed in these part of the solution possible but not groundwater nor easy needed areas. Saurashtra and Kachchh resources are leading Gujarat’s agricultural High Badly needed but possible revolution. and difficult without needed reallocation of water resources
  19. 19. Average Annual GrowthNever known Gross State Domestic Product Rates of for vibrant agriculture, Gujarat’s (GSDP) and Gross State Domestic Product from Agriculture agricultural GDP has grown @ (GSDPA): Major States and All India (%): 2000/01 to 2007/08 record 9.5%/year during (Gulati, Shah and Sreedhar 2009) 2002-2007. Distributed recharge is an important contributor.
  20. 20. Economics of Rainfed Farming in Saurashtra Value formation on rainfed farm: Value form ation on rainfed farm : Early mNormal Monsoon al onsoon w ithdraw 250 1000 200 400 800 3000 m m rain fall Rs/acre 150 300 600 R s/acre 2000 100 200 400 1000 50 100 200 0 0 0 0 O ct M ar Aug e Febn F eb Sept Septly Dec v Janc Apr r Octg June Mar July Nov J un No De Ja Ap Ju Au Precipitation mm Expected cumulative value formation/acre Precipitation Expected cumulative value formation/acre
  21. 21. Economics of Rainfed Farming in Saurashtra: With Distributed Groundwater Recharge Rainfed Farming with Distributed Recharge: Rainfed Farming with Distributed Recharge: Early Normal Monsoon Withdrawal of Monsoon 350 8000 250 5000 300 7000 4500 6000 200 4000 250 3500 mm rainfall 5000 150 3000 Rs/acre Rs/acre 200 mm 4000 2500 150 100 2000 3000 1500 100 2000 50 1000 50 1000 500 0 0 0 0 Nov June Jan July Mar Apr Aug Feb Sept Oct Dec May June Jan Feb Oct Mar July Nov Dec May Sept Aug Apr Precipitation Expected cumulative value formation/acre Precipitation Expected cumulative value formation/acre
  22. 22. Rethinking Storage India’s Water Challenge Western and Southern India have 11 million Dugwells. Many are out of use but are Excellent recharge structures. 100 over-exploited Hardrock districts already Have 7-7.5 million open wells That can be readily used.
  23. 23. There is also dire need For big-ticket Solutions to groundwater Demand management That can act quickly. Gujarat’s Jyotigram scheme is an Example.
  24. 24. Rural Gujarat Rewired under Jyotirgram Yojana Figure 1 a Electricity Network Before Figure 1 b Electricity Network after
  25. 25. Rural power supply environment : before and after JGS • Before • After • Tubewells get 12-13 hours of 3- • Farmers get 8 hours/day of high phase power supply of variable voltage uninterrupted power at voltage, with frequent tripping, at fixed schedules; night in one week, unknown times mostly during nights day-time the next • Flat tariff: Rs 350-500/hp/year • Flat tariff Rs 850/hp/year • Massive use of capacitors to • Capacitors out; impossible convert 1 and 2 phase power to run tubewells • Non-farm users get 24-hour non- stop single phase power • Non-farm users de-electrified because of capacitors • Motor burn out at the minimum • Motor burn-out and rewinding the most important part of maintenance cost • New connections allowed at high costs; now rationed; • New connections not available.
  26. 26. Electricity Utilities; Rural Electrification Corporation Energy- Groundwater Nexus Irrigation Deptts; Conj. Mgt. of Groundwater Recharge Watershed Rain, surface Participatory Master Plan; CGWB; Managers; And ground Groundwater GW Deptts; NGOs; Rainfed Authority water Spheres of Recharge Groundwater Governance Adaptation to Irrigation Micro- Groundwater Water Supply agencies; Equipment Co’s; Quality Public Health Agencies; MI Subsidy; irrigation decline NGO’s; technology MI SPVs (e.g. GGRC) providers
  27. 27. Highlights • History of Indian irrigation: Three Phases and a Turning Point. • Since 1975, Indian agriculture has emerged as the world’s largest user of groundwater to grow food and fibre. • The groundwater boom is fired by population pressure on land and demands of intensive diversification of farming. • Despite growing investments, canal and tank commands are shrinking. Tubewells are canibalizing flow irrigation. • India’s irrigation challenge today is one of managing its sub-continental aquifer systems, a vast reservoir we have left unmanaged. • Intensive groundwater use may be easier to manage in hard rock than in alluvial aquifers. • RWH and groundwater recharge need to be India’s new mantra. Hydro- geologists have to take a lead.. • To govern groundwater wisely, we need to master its demand side as much as its supply side.
  28. 28. Thank You.