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WATER, ENERGY, FOOD NEXUS AND ENERGY SUBSIDIES IN IRRIGATION IN INDIA: EXTERNALITIES AND ITS IMPACTS ON FOOD SECURITY, WATER SECURITY AND PUBLIC HEALTH

IWRA 2021 Online Conference One Water, One Health
Theme 2: How can managing water in agriculture contribute to food security and public health?
Author(s): Gayathri D Naik, Sanjay Shenoi P

Gayathri D Naik - Doctoral Researcher, SOAS University of London
Sanjay Shenoi P - (Assistant Professor, Christ University, Bengaluru)



Keyword(s): Energy Subsidies, Water-Energy- Food Nexus, Food and Water Security, India, Negative Externalities, Public Health
Oral:

Abstract

The role of subsidies in irrigation in India is very crucial, particularly energy subsidies. Public investments in irrigation increased since the introduction of Green Revolution in 1970s which targeted to achieve food security of the nation. Positive externalities of such interventions like subsidies for irrigation has made tremendous changes in agriculture with millions of small and marginal farmers able to access water. Energy subsidies are the most influencing subsidies in irrigation sector in India. Subsidised energy in the form of diesel and electricity ensured sustainable access to water resources and lead to tube well revolution in the north-west parts of India.

This tremendous role of energy subsidies allowed farmers to access more deeper aquifers either individually or through collective efforts. Contribution of such subsidies and consequently irrigation to agricultural and rural development is remarkable. There is a strong interaction and interrelation between energywater and food in India. Sustainable water supply is ensured by free energy granted through subsidies that lead to water security which further contributed to food security. However, with excessive use of energy subsidies for uncontrolled extraction of water, particularly groundwater resources, water table in most parts of the country is depleted and aquifers drying up. It also results in deterioration of water quality due to leaching of chemical fertilisers, pesticides from agriculture. Infiltration of these chemicals to deeper aquifers pollute the source for drinking water as well.

This depletion of both quality and quantity has severe connotations on public health. Clean and safe drinking water is essential not only for drinking water but also for sustainable agricultural production. Polluted water causes polluted food generation that can cause drastic impact on public health in the form of health concerns of cancer, and many other serious illnesses.

This paper examines the role of energy subsidies in groundwater access creating a strong energy-water-food nexus in India that has ensured water security and food security and how such nexus impacts public health. For the same, bases its arguments from both primary and secondary data which is collected by socio-legal method.

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