The discussion paper by Carewater INREM Foundation on possibility of revival of dug wells in hard rock India through recharge is based on a field study across ten districts of the country. The study seeks to understand how localized governance of groundwater in hard rock areas is to be pursued through pricing (water, energy), legal regulation and community institutions. Water supply augmentation and demand management are both to be taken care of, directly through regulation or through indirect instruments such as pricing.
Of the various water conservation schemes tried and piloted, recharging through dug wells has a scope of being promoted under the current national programme on artificial dug well recharge. Dug well recharge can be a backbone of a mass scientific experimentation involving millions of farmers and provides an opportunity to test many of the new ICT innovations like in Tamil Nadu where electronic records are being maintained and feedback from farmers sought.
A comparison with the average natural recharge of 116 mm annually over hard rock areas indicates that there is almost an equal potential in recharging groundwater irrigated areas through dug wells but farmers are wary of taking up recharging on an individual basis as the gain would be common and not individual.
The study moots the need for a national programme that is structured such that subsidy is transferred to the farmers. Alternately, the policy could be to promote local businesses around recharge, so as to harness the experience of well drillers, who also operate during the summer months during which farmers prefer to construct recharge structures. The need is of a dug well recharge programme to create demand from farmers, catalyze enterprises locally around recharge and establish monitoring programmes to measure the benefits from the recharge structures.
Download the report here: