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PM-KUSUM Scheme: Depleted Groundwater Levels Raises Questions on Nationwide Viability

Pronami Chetia
Pronami Chetia

The depleting groundwater levels have raised concern all over the nation and even raised a question on the viability of the subsidized solar pump distribution schemes.

These programs have been implemented by state governments of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.

The center government propagated the PM-KUSUM Scheme for the distribution of solar irrigation pumps across the states.

The scheme instantly popularized among the farmers as they were keen on acquiring more pumps as it relieves them from the erratic agricultural power supplies from Power Distribution utilities. But some of them, including the farmers of Jalgaon, are also wary of fast depleting groundwater levels that may lead to the entire scheme ineffective.

The story of Jalgaon-

The farmers of Jalgaon, whose major source of income is cotton and soybean cultivation, say that they have replaced 52 electric pumps in the village with 45 off-grid solar pumps that were provided by the Maharashtra state government.

Nand Kishore Ghuge, a farmer who replaced an electric pump with solar in Jalgaon told in front of media, “The agricultural power supplies were limited to six hours a day and largely too late nights. This made it difficult to irrigate fields. Since solar power is available during the day, it coincides with our irrigation needs and timings”.

But as per the report, there is also a depletion of the groundwater table in the region. Many fears that free power from solar energy may lead to overuse of water which ultimately leads to water scarcity in the ground.

Yogesh Dighole, another farmer from the village said, “We used to initially get water for five hours after switching on a solar pump. Now we get around four hours of water supply after switching on the pump,”

What did CSE reports say about the Scheme?

According to a report from Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), “The Centre’s new Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-Kusum) scheme is not a “silver bullet” to overcome challenges of irrigation supply, subsidy burden on discoms and farmer distress.”

CSE released an article titled “Silver Bullet: Are Solar Pumps a Panacea for Irrigation, Farmer Distress, and Discom Losses?” highlights the issue.

“In water-scarce regions, solar pumps are unable to provide adequate irrigation due to depleting groundwater,” CSE said.

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