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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-647
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
06 Dec 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Water Food Energy Nexus: Changing Scenarios in India during recent Decades
Beas Barik1, Subimal Ghosh1,2, A. Saheer Sahana1, Amey Pathak1, and Muddu Sekhar3 1Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai – 400 076, India
2Interdisciplinary Program in Climate Studies, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai – 400 076, India
3Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – 560 012, India
Abstract. Meeting the growing water and food demands in a densely populated country like India is a major challenge, requiring extensive investigations into the changing patterns of the checks and balances behind the maintenance of food security at the expense of depleting groundwater, along with high energy consumption. Here we present a comprehensive set of analyses which assess the present status of the water-food-energy nexus in India, along with its changing pattern, in the last few decades. We find that with the growth of population and consequent increase in the food demands, the food production has also increased and this has been made possible with the intensification of irrigation. However, during the recent decade (after 1996), the increase in food production has not been sufficient to meet its growing demands precipitating a decline in the per-capita food availability. We also find a statistically significant declining trend of ground water storage in India during the last decade, as derived from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite datasets. Regional studies reveal contrasting trends between Northern and West-Central India. North-Western India and the Middle Ganga Basin shows a decrease in the groundwater storage as opposed to an increasing storage over West-Central India. Comparison with well-data reveals that the highest consistency of GRACE derived storage data with available well measurements, are in the Middle-Ganga basin. After analysing the data for the last two decades, we further showcase that after a drought, the groundwater storage drops but is unable to recover to its original condition even after good monsoon years. The groundwater storage reveals a very strong negative correlation with the electricity consumption for agricultural usage, which may also be considered as a proxy for groundwater pumped for irrigation in a region. The electricity usage for agricultural purposes has an increasing trend and interestingly, it does not have any correlation with the monsoon rainfall as computed with the original or de-trended variables. This reveals an important finding that the irrigation has been intensified irrespective of rainfall. This also resulted in a decreasing correlation between the food production and monsoon rainfall revealing the increasing dependency of agricultural activities on irrigation. We conclude that irrigation has now become essential for agriculture to meet the food demand; however, it should be judiciously regulated and controlled, based on the water availability from monsoon rainfall, specifically after the drought years, as it is essential to recover from the deficits suffered previously.

Citation: Barik, B., Ghosh, S., Sahana, A. S., Pathak, A., and Sekhar, M.: Water Food Energy Nexus: Changing Scenarios in India during recent Decades, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-647, in review, 2016.
Beas Barik et al.
Beas Barik et al.
Beas Barik et al.

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Short summary
The article summarises the changing pattern of water food energy nexus in India during recent decades. The work first analyses satellite data of water storage with a validation using the observed well data. Northern India shows declining trend of water storage and west-Central India shows increasing trend of the same. Major droughts result into a drop in water storage,which does not get recovered due to uncontrolled ground water irrigation for agricultural activities even in good monsoon years.
The article summarises the changing pattern of water food energy nexus in India during recent...
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