The northern region of Gujarat State in western India (map) is semi-arid and prone to droughts, receiving almost all of its rain during the monsoon season between June and September.
But for the past three decades, many crop and dairy farms have remained green—even during the dry season.
That's because farmers have invested in wells and pumps, using massive amounts of electricity to extract water from deep aquifers. The government has artificially propped up the agricultural sector through power subsidies and price supports.
The pumping hasn't occurred without dire environmental impacts. Groundwater tables have fallen precipitously, 600 feet below the ground in some places, requiring even more powerful pumps to bring water to the surface. Over-consumption has taxed the power grid, constraining the electricity available for others.