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Are Groundwater Markets Viable in Uttar Pradesh

Are Groundwater Markets Viable in Uttar Pradesh? R Maria Saleth Dynamics of Groundwater Irrigation by Kripa Shankar; Segment Publications, THE widespread occurrence of groundwater depletion and scarcity has prompted the search for institutional mechanisms to promote efficient, equitable and ecologically sustainable use of this scarce resource. While state-sponsored instruments like well-spacing and power tariff regulations have evidently failed, the spontaneous emergence of groundwater transfers among the farmers on their own accord has raised the hope of researchers in their search for an alternative institutional option for groundwater utilisation and management. Thanks to the efforts of a number of researchers who have meticulously documented the phenomenon of groundwater markets (GWMs) in various parts of the country, we have today a large body of knowledge on this localised but evolving rural institution Documented evidence till todate suggests a broad typology of GWMs functioning in different parts of the country While the GWMs in the water- scarce Gujarat have taken an almost agribusiness proportions with cash-based commercial transactions, in parts of Tamil Nadu they have displayed a different character with water rents being charged by sellers to the tune of about one-third of total output on buyers' farms! On the other hand, the GWMs in the relatively water- abundant Indo-Gangetic regions appear to fall somewhere in between the two extremes with a very mute form of commercial character. Despite the large body of literature on GWMs, a number of issues remain largely unattended or dealt with only tangentially. Apart from the legal and institutional issues that went largely ignored so far in the literature, there are the following two critical issues that still remain unsettled. Are the GWMs viable in strict economic calculations based on full cost principles? What are the economic linkages between groundwater selling and the utilisation of irrigation assets like tubewells/pumpsets? The book by Kripa Shankar provides empirical evidences from UP to gain new clues to and insights into these and other related issues involved in the use of groundwater and irrigation assets.

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