India is one of the world's biggest users of groundwater and its depleting levels are the main reason for the country's severe shortages.
India should provide incentives to farmers to adopt efficient water use to avert a looming crisis, according to the Economic Survey presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in parliament.
India is one of the world's biggest users of groundwater and its depleting levels are the main reason for the country's severe shortages. About 600 million Indians are facing high-to-extreme water stress and the situation is set to worsen as water requirements rise, according to a 2018 report by NITI Aayog, the government's policy-making body. About 75% of the households in the country do not have drinking water, it said.
One of the key reasons for the shrinking groundwater level is the cropping pattern, which is skewed toward crops that use more water. Rice and sugarcane crops together consume more than 60% of water available for irrigation. India also lacks a proper structure on support prices and subsidies to discourage farmers from growing water-intensive crops, the survey said.
The government has identified 1,592 water-stressed areas in 256 districts to push for water conservation, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her budget speech on Friday. The government will use funds available under various programs for this purpose, she said.