Aquifer management approach towards utilisation of groundwater resources- a debate

To deal with the rapidly depleting groundwater resources it is necessary to initiate a national programme on aquifer management

This paper published in the Economic and Political Weekly dwells on the groundwater management debate and makes suggestions for developing a viable approach to sustainable and equitable management of groundwater in India. The article outlines an aquifer management approach towards utilisation of groundwater resources, which are rapidly being depleted across the country. The paper argues that the recognition and understanding of the aquifer complexity is missing in the current methodology on assessment of groundwater potential and that we are not yet ready for an aquifer management approach.

The article argues that the way forward to deal with the current critical groundwater situation is to initiate a national programme on groundwater management based on the aquifer management.The key steps to make this programme viable and scuccessful would be:

  • Aquifer mapping of the entire country at an appropriate scale
  • Data generation at the right scale
  • Characterisation of aquifers
  • Evolving strategies and protocols for sustainable management of available groundwater
  • Running groundwater management pilots
  • Development of an appropriate legal framework
  • Scaling up the institutional framework

The article ends by highlighting that the question of groundwater governance needs to be understood at two levels:

  • Firstly, that efficient governance will need to build on community based systems of decisionmaking that would involve community support and empowerment
  • Secondly, it would require reengineering of the existing legal framework and groundwater management institutions to play arole in facilitationg and enabling community action.

This paper appeared in the Economic and Political Weekly, and has been sourced here with permission of the authors.

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