Solar Pumps Are Still Pumps, Pose Risk to Groundwater -Rosamma Thomas
With the union government now giving a huge push to the use of solar pumps for extracting groundwater for irrigation, the problem of depletion gets further compounded.
Buldhana (Maharashtra): As a large part of India reels under floods this monsoon, there might seem little reason to dwell on groundwater depletion. Yet, government policy might be putting the already over-used groundwater at greater risk. In 2012, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Water Development Report showed that India is the world’s largest extractor of groundwater. Over 60% of all irrigation water is groundwater, and a bulk of domestic water used in urban and rural areas is also sourced from groundwater. With the union government now giving a huge push to the use of solar pumps for extracting groundwater for irrigation, the problem of depletion gets further compounded.
The loss of groundwater could also set off a string of changes which have not been completely understood so far. A 2016 paper in the Science Advances journal by Surendra Adhikari and Erik Ivins of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California showed that movement of water was likely behind the Earth’s wobbles as it rotated on its axis. The Earth’s spin axis took an abrupt turn to the east around the year 2000; and it now continues to drift at a pace much faster than before. The researchers said massive shifts in water – and mass – were likely causing the wobbling and shift of axis.
In a report titled ‘Silver Bullet’ (which literally means a seemingly magical solution to a convoluted problem), the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) offers data which indicates that the Government of India must take a pause in its advocacy of solar pumps for irrigation. Speaking at the release function of this report in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, deputy director general of CSE Chandra Bhushan explained that whatever the source of energy, ultimately this was a pump scheme.
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