1 This is an official Government of India estimate. Independent researchers suggest that the proportion is likely much higher. An IWMI survey of 2629 farmers from 278 villages across India, Pakistan Punjab and Sind, Nepal Terai and Bangladesh showed that groundwater wells serve as sole or complementary sources in serving 75% of irrigated areas in the entire sample; this ratio was higher at 87% for the Indian sample (Shah et a/., 2005).

2 For example, Henry Vaux, a senior agricultural economist from the University of California at Davis asserts: 'Persistent groundwater overdraft is self-terminating' (Vaux, personal communication, El Escorial, 2005).

3 This was when oil prices were less than half of their cost in October 2005.

4 It uses a district-wise data-set compiled by Bhalla and Singh (2001) covering 273 districts of India and provides data for the value of 35 agricultural crops at 1990 base year price (in rupees, which has been converted to dollars according to the 1990 rupee/dollar exchange rate) for four decades - 1960s to 1990s. These 35 crops cover more than 90% of the crop output and area cultivated in India. We have worked out productivity figures by dividing the value of these 35 crops (in dollars) by the net cropped area in the district. Bhalla and Singh (2001) span data across 273 districts (1960 base), and include all states except Himachal Pradesh and the North-eastern states.

5 Similar evidence is available from other parts of the world as well (see Hernandez-Mora et al., 1999, for a comparative study in Andalucia, Northern Spain).

7 A scholar of the Chinese groundwater degradation problem recently wrote: 'For more than twenty years - since almost immediately after large-scale mechanized groundwater pumping began - Chinese scientists have observed, reported, and warned against the dangers of ground water declines. In 1978, a network of 14,000 observation wells was established in North China. Water levels in every well are measured once every five days. Ground water investigations on all scales, from county to regional levels, and from annual reports to huge research projects involving hundreds of hydrogeologists, have documented water-level declines, and without exception have pointed the finger at over-pumping. Decision-makers in the Land Use Bureau, the Planning Bureau, and the Water Conservation Bureau have been well informed of the problem for years. Official responses have come all the way from the highest level of the Central Government, the State Council, which in 1985 issued 'the principles of determination, calculation, collection and use of water charge for water conservancy works' expressly to address water-shortage problems. Yet, policies continue to encourage unfettered water use. . . . Therefore, the most important question regarding sustainable water use in China is why policy makers ignore the groundwater crisis' (Kendy, 2000).

8 In the Santa Clara Valley south of San Francisco Bay, overdraft was estimated at 52,000 acre feet way back in 1949 when India was still on bullock bailers and Persian wheels. The response to sustained overdraft was for new institutions to be created, such as the Santa Clara Water Conservation District and a water user association. Ten dams were constructed to store flood waters for recharge; barriers of injection wells were created to prevent sea water intrusion; arrangements were made to import 100,000 acre feet of water annually. But, besides these supply-side interventions, there were also measures to restrict the withdrawals through the creation of groundwater zones and the levy of groundwater tax that varied across zones according to the cost of alternative supplies. As a result, in the mid-1980s, the groundwater table stabilized at 30 feet above the historic lowest, and land subsidence became a matter of the past (Coe, 1989).

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