Evaluating groundwater reforms in India based on administrability, equity, and sustainability - A research paper in Texas International Law Journal

This paper in Texas International Law Journal evaluates groundwater reforms in India based on three criteria: administrability, equity and sustainability.

The paper starts with a brief introduction on the over dependence on groundwater in the country for various purposes. The heavy reliance on groundwater is attributed to the country’s unique climate and how it affects India’s largely agrarian economy. Further it states that annual groundwater extraction rate is the highest on earth: an estimated 200 billion cubic meters per year. Firstly, the erratic monsoon trends drive most farmers to rely on irrigation to support their crops and groundwater is the largest sources of irrigation. Secondly, expanding industries, such as textiles, construction companies, and bottled water plants, are also heavy users of groundwater.

The paper then goes on to elaborate the emerging groundwater crisis, which is most evident in the dry regions of the country. The drop in the water tables has a harsh effect on impoverished farmers many of whom depend on small tubewells for groundwater access. The quality of water also becomes an issues of equal concern along with seas water intrusion. Following, this the author evaluates the reforms to India’s groundwater governance system based on three criteria:

  1. Administrability refers to the ability of the government to achieve actual implementation of a given policy.
  2. Equity measures the extent to which the reforms operate fairly between different segments of the society.
  3. Sustainability conveys whether a policy successfully balances the rates of present resource consumption with “the capacity of ecological . . . supply, over a long period of time.

Finally the paper concludes by making key policy recommendations that are necessary to institute a more effective groundwater system, which are as follows:

  • To construct a system that elevates institutional transparency and democratic participation
  • To eliminate duplicative regulatory bodies
  • To reform basic groundwater rights structure

Click here to read the full paper.

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