In our village, agriculture has almost halted today - groundwater which was there at 200 feet when we moved in in 1995 is now at 600 feet. There is a story ...
Water, before the days of electricity, was available at a depth of forty feet. In the 1980s sinking of borewells began. The first bore sunk was Krishnamurthy’s and water was then available at two hundred feet. The earliest bores were inwell bores and they were termed successes if water gushed out on its own! ... In 2011 groundwater levels had fallen to five hundred to six hundred feet.
For the inbetween decades, from 1980s to 2010, groundwater was extracted at volumes well over the annual recharge and as a result the water reserves accumulated since time immemorial got exhausted. There was appearent boomtime with sugarcane cultivated in drylands and people making money to convert ther huts to cement houses.
Now one is now back to the average water available being equal to what was available fifty years ago which is approximately the annual recharge. But today this water is being extracted at enormous cost, and with complete dependence on electricity, from a depth of six hundred feet, whereas fifty years ago it was available at forty feet.
Also, the farmer with a water source would have spent about a lakh, on the initial well digging, on subsequent deepenings, on sinking borewells of finite lifetimes, on the motor repairs and on other expenses. This is a very huge investment, and in that perspective, the net gain of borewell agriculture is questionable.