As area under irrigation grew between 2001-02 and 2012-13, farms irrigated by tube wells rose faster than by canals, according to a FactChecker analysis of government data.

Increasing use of tube wells depletes groundwater. Irrigation accounts for 89% of groundwater extraction in India, according to a report from PRS Legislative Research, a New Delhi-based advocacy.

Net irrigated area--counting only the land area and not the cropped area--rose 10 percentage points to 48% (68 million hectare) of the 140 million hectare sown area in 2012-13 from 38% (54 million hectare) of 141 million hectare in 2001-02, according to data from the statistics ministry (see here and here).

Total foodgrain area irrigated rose seven percentage points to 51% (61.7 million hectare) from 44% (54 million hectare) in the 12-year period.

Source: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation reports 1 & 2
Note: Figures for net sown area and total foodgrains area irrigated provisional from 2008-09 to 2012-13.

While net irrigated area under canals rose 15.7% to 16.3 million hectare in 2012-13 from 14.1 million hectare in 2001-02, area under tube wells increased 21.5% to 29.9 million hectare from 25.6 million hectare.

As share of net irrigated area, both canals and tube wells fell about 2 percentage points to 24% and 45% in 2012-13, respectively. Share of other sources--including ponds, springs and reservoirs--increased four percentage points to 11% in 2012-13, according to department of land resources data.

Source: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
Note: Figures provisional from 2008-09 to 2012-13

(Vivek is an analyst with IndiaSpend and FactChecker.)