India’s deepening water crisis at the heart of farm protests

RANSIH KALAN. India (AP) — At the heart of India’s farm protests and decades-old agrarian crisis is a policy conundrum: India has been subsidizing the cultivation of rice in the north, but these are thirsty crops that have dramatically lowered the groundwater table. The protesting farmers are overwhelmingly from the region that has benefitted most from policies for maximizing food production. But the policies aimed at providing a surplus have deepened India’s water crisis. The groundwater in Punjab, a state with 27 million people, is projected to dry up entirely by 2039. And climate change has made the monsoon rains — a lifeline for over half of India’s cultivated area — unpredictable and made farmers more reliant on groundwater.