A Poisoned Chalice: Curious case of glamour and deterioration of Punjab put up Inexperienced Revolution

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The Inexperienced revolution led to in India in Sixties was a recreation changer, it revolutionized agricultural manufacturing and perpetuated a paradigm shift within the Agrarian state of affairs. Goal was to rework India from a rustic going through excessive meals shortage and meals insecurity to a rustic with self sufficiency in grains. With a deliberate and focused technique we achieved that and past, and state of Punjab was poster boy of this extensively hailed success story however it got here on the harrowing value of human lives and well being. It gave rise to an period of unprecedented groundwater pumping fueled by free and sponsored electrical energy. A semi arid state, the depletion of groundwater had disastrous penalties resulting in focus of carcinogenic chemical substances in groundwater, giving an open invitation to deadly ailments like most cancers, renal failures, fetal abnormalities and so on, and the groundwater was discovered to be in violation of all BIS, WHO uranium norms. Consultants suspect each artifical and geogenic components chargeable for this, however even geogenic components take root from artifical acts. While the central governments have taken energetic steps for preservation and restoration of groundwater, we’re nonetheless miles away from attaining the state of normalcy.

green agriculture


The Inexperienced revolution led to within the Sixties was a recreation changer, it revolutionized agricultural manufacturing and perpetuated a paradigm shift within the Agrarian state of affairs. It was a time when the US very conspicuously made India really feel that it was performing on the mercy of US meals exports. “After we wish to purchase grain from the skin, we’re pictured as reaching out with a begging bowl Quoted Indira Gandhi, which gave delivery to Inexperienced revolution and empowered creating nations like India to beat acute scarcity of grains and extra importantly overcome poor agricultural productiveness. Whereas it managed to attain the foremost targets of drastically decreasing India’s starvation disaster and famine by bolstering our meals manufacturing, this entire feat was not lower than magical in the truth that we by means of very meticulous planning, focused inputs, optimum assist and strict timelines, in a really brief span of time have been rewarded with self-sufficiency in meals grains manufacturing, leaving us with a gutsy feeling of “fortunately ever after”

However, this revolution got here at an enormous ecological value, the case in query: Punjab, sure the golden land and the wheat bowl of India. It got here, and got here on the harrowing value of human lives and well being, scarring households for generations. The aftermath has revealed it fangs in methods by no means seen earlier than.

Quickly Punjab began going through a brand new gamut of issues like deteriorating soil well being, pest-infested crops and over exploitation of floor water leading to disastrous penalties. The value paid by Punjab for attaining meals safety by means of the inexperienced revolution is most cancers, renal failure, most cancers, delivery defects and stillborn infants.

Punjab is a semi arid area, which means that it was not naturally probably the most appropriate state for rising rice, a particularly water intensive crop. To develop 1 kg of rice, as many as 5,337 liters of water is required. But, Punjab was one of many 4 states handpicked for finishing up this revolutionary undertaking, as a result of the sources to take a position have been restricted and there was an impending urgency to ship. The Easy Purpose was to make India self-sufficient in staple grains as quickly as attainable, to vary the image of perceived helplessness of reaching out with a beggar’s hand. For this Punjab was superior one of the best services akin to superior high quality seeds, mechanization, assured costs for the crops and so on. Irrigation water was initially made obtainable from main dam and canal methods, and as these have been absolutely appropriated, it slowly gave rise to an period of unprecedented groundwater pumping fueled by free and sponsored electrical energy for agriculture.

India is the most important person of floor water on the earth, extracting 253 bcm of floor water yearly, which is about 25% of the worldwide floor water extraction. In India, the extraction is primarily for irrigation, accounting for practically 90% of the annual extraction.

Now, the Authorities is encouraging farmers to domesticate rice by providing free energy turned out to be a ticking bomb disguised as a boon, resulting in drastic overexploitation of the aquifers regardless of the presence of 5 rivers. And this prevalence has been substantiated and evidenced by NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Centre Scientific Visualization Studio utilizing the GRACE satellite tv for pc from 2002 to 2008, whereby it got here to mild that the groundwater in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan had plummeted by greater than 88-million-acre ft. In response to some estimates this quantity is equal to 3 instances the amount of water current in Lake Mead, the most important reservoir of USA which is 640 sq. kms of space holding approx 26.12-million-acre ft of wate.

The altering crop sample of Punjab

It is rather pertinent to carry forth an vital aspect right here, how the cropping sample of Punjab modified over a time period which is the basis explanation for all these issues. Talked about right here is the altering crop sample in Punjab of some main crops.


12 months Rice Gram Maize
1966-1967 6.82% 15.16% 10.62%
2014-2015 40.76% 0.03% 1.77%


It’s obvious how the share of main crops in Punjab decreased tilting solely in the direction of rice and wheat which now accounts for 90% of the realm. Placing issues in perspective, beforehand solely 6% of land was confused, now virtually half of the land is beneath stress or potential stress. It is a explanation for fear additionally as a result of gram, maize are extraordinarily wealthy in vitamin thereby caring for dietary wants, in the end well being of the inhabitants and due to this drastic tilt, crops very important for effectively being additionally stood impacted.

Discovering of carcinogenic chemical dangers


The Punjab’s southwest fertile Malwa belt (space south of Sutlej river, comprising the districts of Bathinda, Barnala, Moga, Sangrur, Faridkot, Mansa and a few elements of Ludhiana are worst affected. To review the potential well being dangers related to the standard of groundwater, 3 districts (Ludhiana, Barnala and Bathinda) have been chosen on the premise of their dependency on the groundwater for consuming, home functions and agricultural functions. In majority of the samples, the focus of chemical substances was discovered to be past permissible ranges prescribed by the WHO. Samples have been analysed for 9 hint components, together with arsenic, chromium, lead and uranium. The groundwater in all 3 locations was not discovered to be match for consuming.

In case of uranium, 85% of samples from Bathinda exceeded the WHO consuming water norms restrict, whereas 75% and 10% of samples from Barnala and Ludhiana, respectively, have been discovered to be violating the norms. The most cancers inflicting chemical substances akin to arsenic and chromium exceeded the US EPA’s acceptable limits in all the three districts, however their focus in groundwater was low as in comparison with BIS/WHO consuming water requirements. In Bathinda, carcinogenic threat of arsenic and chromium was highest. The carcinogenic threat of chromium was additionally noticed in Barnala and Ludhiana districts. The findings of this research have been printed within the Worldwide Journal of Environmental Geochemistry and Well being.

The research recommends that the federal government take preventive steps to offer potable water services together with massive scale consciousness camps/packages in order that the folks know the well being dangers of consuming non-potable water. Routine check-ups of individuals within the affected areas has additionally been vigorously advocated.

Findings of the Central Authorities


New information that the Ministry of Jal Shakti has shared in parliament means that the issue could also be out of hand. In response to the Central authorities’s Uranium report 2019-2020, the figures with respect to Punjab are as follows:


No.of samples analysed 302
No.of samples past permissible restrict of WHO(U >30ppb) 73
No.of samples past permissible restrict of Atomic Power Regulatory Board (AERB) (U >60ppb) 18
Most worth of Uranium noticed (in ppb) 156.5


Acc. to the report, probably the most affected state when it comes to extreme uranium focus within the consuming water is Punjab (24.2% of wells have been recorded to violate the restrict of 30ppb uranium focus prescribed by WHO).

Sources of extreme focus

The precise sources of those heavy metals are unclear, however consultants suspect geogenic components and the rampant overuse of pesticides, fertilizers and different chemical substances. When the so known as HYV seeds varieties have been launched, touted as miracle seeds the one catch was that it got here with a bundle of chemical fertilizers, with out which they might not carry out their ‘miracle’. The chemical fertilizers disturbed the pure character and construction of the soil, upset the steadiness of farming and gave rise to a bunch of recent types of ailments and pests attacking the crops.[1]

Let me strive trying a really layman clarification to this. The chemical substances like uranium and radium have been at all times current within the waters of Punjab, however the quantity of floor water at one time was so enormous that the impact/focus of those chemical substances was diluted to a big extent, however due to the shrinkage of the aquifers, it has led to an obvious improve within the focus of those chemical substances thereby turning into the reason for menace.

A number of research have linked the consumption of arsenic-contaminated water to broken coronary heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. The impact of all this may be witnessed within the rising variety of most cancers sufferers and kids being born with abnormalities, and so on within the Malwa belt.

A tragic proven fact that must be highlighted right here is the presence of a practice particularly “Most cancers Specific” operating from Bathinda in Punjab to Bikaner in Rajasthan, named so as a result of it carries a lot of most cancers sufferers for remedy at a most cancers hospital, what may be extra heartbreaking than this. The disturbing irony right here is that the very goal of consuming meals is to maintain one wholesome and free from all of the ailments, however right here the very sources of life are threatening the human lives.

Different and Sustainable Strategy

Punjab should give attention to cultivating much less water intensive crops like rice, sugarcane and extra excessive worth low water intensive crops akin to Onion, Brinjal, carrot, marigold, cucumber, carrot, Mulberry, Ridge Gourd, Ash gourd, Chrysanthemum, Coriander, and so on. Farmers from Karnataka are realizing greater income utilizing just one/4th of the groundwater utilized by Punjab farmers. And the one means the state authorities can cease the farmers from cultivating rice is by placing an finish to the availability of free energy.  And authorities realizing this has provide you with scheme and incentives.

One other means is by giving them good MSP for top worth low water crops. Profitability could be a main motivating issue to modify. And the transfer is required now greater than ever, in order that any irreversible/irreparable harm may be averted. No extra delay is suitable.

We additionally want extra floor water monitoring stations than the prevailing 351 in Punjab, it’s an pressing want of the hour. (Orissa has the highest 1689) the Punjab authorities should routinely consider the state of affairs and the funds allotted for the remedy of the sufferers affected should be elevated and be routinely revised till the state of affairs begins altering for higher.

Steps taken by the Authorities 

There are a number of steps which have been adopted by the central authorities on this regard in collaboration with state governments, and the targets with which the efforts have been undertaken is sort of commendable and should be pursued vehemently and diligently. A few of the steps/packages initiated to manage groundwater depletion are talked about thereby:

  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan was launched by Central govt in 2019, intending to enhance water availability together with groundwater circumstances within the water confused blocks of 256 districts.
  • For space particular floor water administration plan with group participation, Aquifer Mapping and Administration Program has been enacted.
  • Grasp Plan for Synthetic Recharge of Groundwater, 2020 has been ready by CGWB in session with state governments, whereby to harness the 185 Billion Cubic Metre (BCM) of water obtainable, the creation of about 1.42 crore Rain water harvesting and synthetic recharge constructions within the nation has been envisioned.

Manner ahead (conculsion)

There should be proactive efforts to quantify the contribution of groundwater to nationwide gross home product. The pumping of groundwater ought to be regulated and the Legal guidelines which are in place for the pumping of groundwater ought to be stricter and comply with particular rules. Other than all of the preventive measures we will take now, there may be an pressing have to undertake water harvesting methods within the state. The state authorities should make it obligatory for development of harvesting constructions in each main establishment, prime of the buildings, in colleges, schools and so on. Governments should purportedly try to revive the standard watershed administration methods, such because the system of Johars in collaboration with Atal Bhujal Yojana which proposes to contain group for preservation and administration of groundwater can also be very fascinating. scheme plus incentivise remedy/repurification of waste water for different utilisations. As a result of the disaster of Punjab is a standing witness to the acute dangers- the depletion of groundwater can pose and the way it’s able to making our lives very tough and drawback ridden.

[1] Vijay Jarhdhari, ”Barahnaja: Conventional Biodiverse Crop System in Uttarakhand”, Pg.114.


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