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Reforms in irrigation sector a must: Experts

Tribune, Delhi, 1st September, 2014

Experts participating in a workshop on “Water-agriculture-livelihood security (WEALS)”, organised under a USAID-funded project, have stressed on reforms in the irrigation sector to save the state from turning into a desert. They said the need of the hour was water and energy pricing. Some speakers suggested a critical analysis of the impact of free power to the farm sector for operating tube wells. There has been a steady decline in the water table. The table is likely to go down by 75 cm this year. Financial Commissioner Suresh Kumar said: “There is a need for an agriculture sustainability programme in the state”. He suggested a re-assessment of the available water resources for better planning and allocation. On the power subsidy, the officer said the state was looking for innovative approaches to address concerns. Dr BS Dhillon, Vice Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, and Prof Upmanu Lall, Director, Columbia Water Centre, called for bold policy decisions.


AS Dullet, Chief Engineer, Canals, speaking on the problem of waterlogging, said a comprehensive plan for augmenting surface water planning was a must. Dr Balwinder Singh, Commissioner, Agriculture, said the increasing use of groundwater for irrigation purposes had led to the depletion of aquifers. The current model benefited big farmers and there was an urgent need to address the concerns of small landholders, he said. Apurva Chaturvedi, programme management specialist, USAID, said there were no incentives for farmers crushed under the weight of high input costs. Dr Genevieve Connors, programme leader, World Bank, said they had made an investment of $20 billion in water and agriculture. Dr GS Kalkat, Chairman, Punjab State Farmers Commission, advocated crop diversification. Some suggestions Need for an agriculture sustainability programme in Punjab Re-assessment of water resources for better planning Comprehensive plan for augmenting surface water planning Need to address the concerns of small landholders