16th APRIL 2016
Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.
Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.
GS III : AGRICULTURE
1. Many states in India have reported occurrence of drought on account of deficient rainfall. This has resulted in a severe water crisis and has affected the farmers the most. What steps need to be taken to revitalize the agriculture sector and improve the conditions of the farmers on a sustained basis, in this regard?
May also read:
Farming has never been easy. Farmers have to face a host of challenges, the most difficult of which is dealing with the uncertainties of nature.
In the current global scenario, climate change is adding to their woes. The solution lies in promoting farming techniques which will help farmers in adapting to the changing climate without reducing their agricultural income.
Deepak Pental, former vice chancellor of Delhi University and genetics professor, has pointed out, when India exports 1 kg of basmati rice, in effect it exports 5,000 kg of water.
Dr.Nishi Rai, a scientist working at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra asserts, "In the arid and semi - arid belts, we should opt for drought resistant and short duration seed varieties that are less vulnerable to climate change. For example swarna and poorna varieties of wheat use less water and grow in less time and so are more suitable for drought prone areas."
Along with climate resilient crop varieties, organic farming, rain-water storage for crop irrigation, water efficient irrigation techniques, line sowing, dry sowing etc. are other sustainable agricultural practices that farmers need to adopt to reduce their vulnerability to climate change as well as save resources.
If one opt for sprinkler irrigation system or drip irrigation in your fields, it saves up to 30 to 40 percent water.
Green shade nets that help in temperature control for germination of seedlings also need to be promoted to help farmers grow cash crops like vegetables to increase their adaptive capacities.
Building agricultural information networks in the villages and developing value chains for crops will also help in enhancing the farm incomes.
What is important is to ensure that these agricultural technologies get properly mainstreamed and integrated into state level policies, programs and budgets in order to achieve climate resilient development in India.
Drought in India
· The central government approved the release of monetary assistance from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) for drought-affected states, after examining of the proposals by a central team that visited the states severely affected by drought.
· Ten states have been declared as drought-affected. These include: Assam, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh.
· 12,360 farmers have committed suicide in 2014 as per National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.
· Data from the Central Water Commission show that waterlevels in 91 major reservoirs is alarmingly low, with no water currently in three reservoirs in Maharashtra.
Causes for drought in Marathwada:
· Beed, Latur and Osmanabad districts of Maharashtra are facing a severe water shortage.
· The drinking water crisis has been triggered by overexploitation of groundwater.
· Cane crops continue to be watered from groundwater sources in Marathwada.
· In some areas, borewell water is being drawn from as deep as 1,000 metres below ground, which must be stopped immediately.
· The last three years’ statistics show that the monsoon season has been arriving late in Maharashtra. But the farmers in the State continue to sow seeds that are not drought resistant.
A significant rise in kidney stone and urinary tract infection cases due to consumption of borewell water has been witnessed in Latur. This water contains very high level of salts, calcium and oxalates. These salts make the water hard and people are more prone to kidney stone formation.
Obstacles in relief:
While Marathwada has only five per cent water supply, Amravati region of Vidarbha is slightly better with 21 per cent. Only the coastal Konkan region has 52 per cent water reserves, but it cannot be transported to other regions because of the Sahyadri mountain range.
Steps that need to be taken:
· The Supreme Court urged the Centre to immediately provide relief to drought-hit states, pointing out that soaring temperature this summer would worsen the situation.
· A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur also expressed its displeasure over not releasing adequate funds to the states under rural employment scheme (MGNREGA) and asked the Centre to furnish expenditure details of drought-hit states. The court underlined that as per government’s own figures, average workdays under MGNREGA is 48 days whereas the statute says it should be 100 days.
· Goods train carrying 50 tank steam-cleaned wagons of water for drought-affected areas of Latur departed from Kota workshop for Miraj in the Pune division.
· Noted water conservationist Rajendra Singh, who has been touring the affected districts of Marathwada, said that the situation is grim, with no respite in sight. If a government can have its own reserve police, why can’t it have reserve water supply?
· There is a need to complete irrigation projects in a time-bound manner to address water issues.
· Agriculture is a State subject and Centre supplements the efforts of the states. The Centre has taken several steps to revitalise the agriculture sector and improve the conditions of farming community on a sustained basis by increasing public investment, improving farm practices and focusing on rural infrastructure development.
· The country’s groundwater is over-exploited, especially in the Green Revolution zones. Increase in irrigated acreage is also taking place through use of groundwater. Recalibration of the price support regime and rationalisation of electricity subsidies are required to nudge the farmer towards less water-hungry crops.
· India lives by its farm economy — while its share in total GDP may be dropping, the percentage of Indians who depend on it remains extremely high. The country will only begin to make the livelihood of farmers sustainable when it addresses the water crisis and pursues solutions that keep the terms of trade in their favour.
GS III : INFRASTRUCTURE -MARITIME
2. How is the Sagarmala Project of India different from the String of Pearls strategy of China? What objectives does the Sagarmala Project seek to achieve and how?