ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Allocating the Common Heritage-Debates over Water Rights and Governance Structures in India

This paper represents a preliminary effort to identify a social basis for groundwater rights reform in India and to identify governance structures capable of ensuring that stakeholder values are reflected in the water allocation decision-making processes. This is done by first examining basic philosophical divides between the treatment of water as a commodity versus a common heritage. Customary and statutory rights structures governing groundwater and surface water in India are discussed next followed by current debates over reform. Thoughts toward a new rights and governance structure drawing on key features in existing practice are then outlined. In conclusion, the author argues that governance structures must be designed to create a balance of power in water use decisions between private (either individual or group) right holders and common rights that reflect the common heritage nature of water resoures.

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