India is on a path to reduce its carbon emission intensity with a major thrust on increasing the grid-connected solar photovoltaic capacity. However, the carbon footprint in agriculture is on the rise. Heavy subsidies for electricity and diesel to pump groundwater for irrigated agriculture, combined with lack of regulations on water withdrawal, are resulting in both groundwater over-exploitation and increased carbon emissions.

Groundwater ha s emerged as the mainstay of irrigated agriculture in India. However, ineffective institutional arrangements for its management have resulted in both groundwater over-exploitation and wasteful use of energy. To address the dependence of groundwater use on energy, suggestions have been made to adopt solar-powered irrigation pumps. It is argued that solar pumps are not only economically unviable, but under the present policy context, their use would do little to reduce groundwater and energy use in Indian agriculture.

Over the last decade, various policy reforms have been carried out in India