From the N.Y. Times:
Bhanwar Lal Yadav, once a cultivator of cucumber and wheat, has all but given up growing food. No more suffering through drought and the scourge of antelope that would destroy what little would survive on his fields.Suddenly, the concept of "sustainability" doesn't seem so vague after all.
Today he has reinvented himself as a vendor of what counts here as the most precious of commodities: the water under his land.
Each year he bores ever deeper. His well now reaches 130 feet down. Four times a day he starts up his electric pumps. The water that gurgles up, he sells to the local government — 13,000 gallons a day. What is left, he sells to thirsty neighbors. He reaps handsomely, and he plans to continue for as long as it lasts.
“However long it runs, it runs,” he said. “We know we will all be ultimately doomed.”
Mr. Yadav’s words could well prove prophetic for his country. Efforts like his — multiplied by some 19 million wells nationwide — have helped India deplete its groundwater at an alarming pace over the last few decades.
The country is running through its groundwater so fast that scarcity could threaten whole regions like this one, drive people off the land and ultimately stunt the country’s ability to farm and feed its people.
With the population soaring past one billion and with a driving need to boost agricultural production, Indians are tapping their groundwater faster than nature can replenish it, so fast that they are hitting deposits formed at the time of the dinosaurs.