From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Jal Hi Jivan Scheme
Mains level : Groundwater management
- Farmers in paddy-growing districts of Haryana have agreed to opt for maize and other alternatives after the state government offered major incentives for crop diversification.
- This was done in an attempt to address the rapidly falling groundwater levels in the state.
‘Jal Hi Jiwan’ Scheme
- The ‘Jal Hi Jiwan’ scheme envisages diversification of 50,000 hectare area of non-basmati rice mainly into maize, pulses or oilseeds to achieve the target.
- Apart from seeds and financial assistance of Rs 5,000 per hectare, the farmer’s share of crop insurance will also be borne by the government.
- After it emerged that the groundwater level has depleted in 76% area of the state, Haryana launched the pilot scheme.
- The objective of the scheme is to replace paddy with maize in seven major paddy-growing districts: Ambala, Yamuna Nagar, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Karnal and Sonipat.
- According to the state Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Department, the farmers have formally registered for alternative plantations over 40,000 hectares of land.
Why substitute Paddy Cultivation?
- Paddy is not suitable for Haryana because it puts tremendous stress on the groundwater due to its water-intensive nature.
- According to agriculture department officials, 1 kg of rice requires 2,000-5,000 litres of water, depending upon its variety, soil type and time of sowing.
- With paddy production jumping, the number of tubewells in the state also shot up from a few thousand to 8 lakh, resulting in overdrawing of groundwater.
- Experts also say that it has exhausted the soil health while the crops like arhar, pulses and oilseeds require minimum fertilizers.
- If farmers opt for maize in place of rice, the water saved per hectare will be about 14 lakh litres per crop season.
Rise in dark zones
- These are zones where the water table has fallen to a critical level, and the rate at which water is being drawn is much more than the pace at which it is being recharged.
- In the last two decades, the farmers have pumped out much as 74% of the groundwater reservoirs.
- If over-exploitation of the water continues, parts of Haryana will turn into a desert in the coming years.
First such scheme ever
- Haryana is the first state to implement water-saving scheme involving sowing maize as an alternative crop.