Sugarcane kills groundwater

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Nemani Chandrasekhar

Aug 10, 2014, 6:30:06 AM8/10/14
to, ssi-india,
Sugarcane kills groundwater
Sandi Dighe, Pune Mirror | August 9, 2014

Sugarcane kills groundwater
Farmers who cultivate sugarcanes, bananas and grapes usually require more water
By: Sandip Dighe

The state has received plentiful rainfall, but prevalence of sugarcane farming means groundwater levels are dropping alarmingly

The monsoon gods have been kind to Maharashtra over the last couple of weeks, with plentiful rains covering the length and breadth of the state, filling up our dams and reservoirs with water. But in a strange turn of events, groundwater levels are depleting fast, even as the rain continues to pour.

In many villages, groundwater has gone down by over a metre. This affects 110 talukas in the state, including a few in Pune district, a trend that could even impact drinking water supply. Officials of the Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (GSDA) say it's an alarming and shocking turn of events. "For the first time, we conducted a groundwater survey in the state. Shockingly, some of the talukas which are showing low groundwater levels have actually received adequate rainfall," said Suresh Khandale, additional director of GSDA.

Khandale attributed this trend to the prevalence of sugarcane and banana cultivation in the state. "Farmers who cultivate sugarcane are excessively exploiting groundwater. It affects the overall groundwater levels. If they are to start using water scientifically, this could still change," he said.

Senior scientists from the State Agriculture department admitted that there is an urgent need to educate the farmers. "Farmers who cultivate sugarcanes, bananas and grapes usually require more water. If we create awareness about proper usage of water, this problem can be solved," a scientist said.

In addition, there has also been a reduction in the number of rainy days — from around 35-40 days in a year to around 25-30 days, Khandale added.

Senior Geologist Bhalchandra Tonpe of GSDA told Mirror, "This disturbing trend is a result of mismanagement and haphazard use of groundwater in the affected areas. Groundwater replenishment starts from June in a normal year and goes on till September. Discharge is from October till May. Roughly 200 to 300 mm rainfall is needed to replenish the water table, though this measure differs from area to area."




Norman Thomas Uphoff

Aug 10, 2014, 9:01:15 AM8/10/14
to, Biksham Gujja

This is a good but very deficient article. I just sent in the following comment to the PUNE MIRROR and Mr. Dighe. Others might like to help inform it and him about SSI:

This article by Sandip Dighe is truly alarming, as the future of the sugarcane sector in Maharashtra and elsewhere is clearly in jeopardy when using present methods of cultivation. It is unfortunate that Mr. Dighe did not know about and report on something known as Sustainable Sugarcane Intensification (SSI), which can give farmers higher yields of cane with higher sugar content while reducing the requirements for irrigation water and with lower costs of production because there is less reliance on and utilization of agrochemical inputs. For information on SSI, this is available on the website of AgSRI based in Hyderabad:

Prof. Norman Uphoff, Cornell University, USA  


From: [] On Behalf Of Nemani Chandrasekhar
Sent: Sunday, August 10, 2014 6:30 AM
To:; ssi-india;
Subject: [SSI-India] Sugarcane kills groundwater


Sugarcane kills groundwater
Sandi Dighe, Pune Mirror | August 9, 2014

Image removed by sender. Sugarcane kills groundwater



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Leontino Balbo Junior

Aug 11, 2014, 1:01:32 PM8/11/14
to, Biksham Gujja

Thanks for sending Norman. I hope everything is OK with you and your family.


Warmest regards,



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