The ‘package programme’ that brought the Green Revolution in Punjab had an important component as canal irrigation. Sadly, the water from the canals that satiated the parched land of the region is now causing problems of unimaginable proportions. The canal systems – Sirhind and western Yamuna canals – irrigate more than 1 million hectares of land in Punjab. While the irrigation has brought agricultural prosperity, it is also bringing environmental misery. It has been estimated that the water seepage across the banks of canals have rendered large areas unfit for human usage. In fact, the soil salinity that has been the direct repercussion of canal irrigation has left the whole of southern Punjab uncultivable.
Although our national agricultural policy is attempting a 4% growth for Indian agriculture, it seems almost unachievable given the neglect to the environmental gradient. Over-exploitation of natural resources has left a large chunk of agricultural land unfit for future usage. Given India’s lower positioning in agricultural productivity in most of the crops, rendering a large landmass in the lap of degradation leaves almost nothing for future. The quest for ‘evergreen revolution’ then can ignore environment only to its own peril.