Groundwater depletion in Central Punjab: pattern, access and adaptations
Based on primary data collected from 105 farming households spread across three districts and nine villages of central Punjab, this study examines groundwater depletion and consequent shifts of the farmers from centrifugal to submersible pumps. It also documents adaptation strategies of farmers in response to groundwater depletion. Owing to groundwater depletion, borewell deepening started in the 1980s and was witnessed on almost all the farms by the mid-1990s. The shift from centrifugal to submersible motors followed the S-shaped curve, which was usually observed in the adoption process of new technologies and practices. There was increase in investments on shifting to submersible pumps and the small farmers also opted for sharing of motors in order to reduce the burden of increasing investments. There were also some shifts towards alternative crops in the kharif season on small farms in response to declining access to irrigation water due to groundwater depletion in central Punjab. Some farmers were also resorting to water saving practices such as laser levelling and direct seeding of rice. Promotion of water saving technologies and practices may reduce groundwater depletion and improve access of the small holders to water.