Ecological Fallout of Development in a Green Revolution Region The Case of Punjab

Inderjeet Singh


Economic development is a complex process. As an economy moves from lowerto higher stages of development, there occurs a shift from simpler to more modern andcomplicated techniques of production on one hand and ecological fallouts on the other.International evidence is indicative of the fact that agriculture centered development ofa region generates the much needed food security but at the same time raises thealarming ecological signals. The review of literature on the topic is indicative of the factthat worldwide the ground water quantity and the quality is the first victim of theagricultural revolution and next are the health and the existence of species.Indiscriminate use of chemicals and pesticides in agriculture has created serious healthand environmental problems in many developing countries.

Punjab, the northern state of Indian Union, followed the agriculture-centricmodel of development. Growth of agriculture output in Punjab has lead to higher percapitaincome and better standards of living. Ecological fallouts have started croppingup. The paper is an attempt to analyze the ecological fallout of the development modelfollowed by the state. Based on secondary data, it covers the period of last 40 years ofeconomic development. The spatial and temporal dynamics of this ecological crisis ofeconomic development has been analyzed in the time domain of its past, present andfuture.

Broad conclusions are as follows. Falling water table and groundwater overdrafthas become a serious problem in the Malwa region of the state. Punjab is the topperstate in consumption of chemical fertilizers and pesticides per hectare. Presently thePunjab, with only 1.57 percent of the geographical area is consuming 15 percent of thepesticides and more than 8 percent of chemical fertilizers of India. The health ailmentsare alarmingly on the rise and are closely identified with indiscriminate chemical use inagriculture. Temporal analysis of the system shows that the repercussions have startedto show up in the form of depleted ground water, wide spread salinity, deterioratingwater quality and specific kind of disease pattern in human beings. The higher income levels coupled with lack of knowledge are acting as catalysts in this deteriorationprocess.

On the policy plane, if the region has to continue as food grain capital of India,modern agricultural practices will have to take into account the reality of the watersituation and create a feasible long run plan for a sustainable future. There is a need todevelop a strategy to: (a) maintain an optimum ground water balance; (b) regulate thechemical use; and (c) address the health issues. The conclusions and action orientedpolicy implications of this work will be useful for the economic planners and policymakers.

Key words: Development, Ecological Fallout, Agriculture

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