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

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India's Groundwater Challenge and the Way Forward

The groundwater crisis is acquiring alarming proportions in many parts of the country. Strategies to respond to groundwater overuse and deteriorating water quality must be based on a new approach involving typologising the resource problems and redefining the institutional structure governing groundwater. This approach is based on the notion of groundwater as common property. The complex nature of groundwater problems in India implies that a detailed understanding of regimes in different hydrogeological settings and socio-economic situations is the prerequisite for sustainable and equitable management. Further, the management strategies should be specified keeping aquifer-scales in mind. For the adoption of this new approach, reforms are needed in how we assess groundwater resources, map aquifers, monitor quality and in the legal and institutional framework for groundwater governance. A national programme of groundwater management based on this processspecific approach is needed to address the challenge.

This paper draws heavily from the report prepared by the authors (Kulkarni, Shankar and Krishnan 2009), submitted to the Planning Commission, Government of India, as part of the Planning Commission’s mid-term appraisal of the Eleventh Plan. The authors are grateful to Mihir Shah of the Planning Commission for his constant encouragement and articulation of research queries that guided the study that formed a prelude to this paper. The authors also acknowledge Tushaar Shah (IWMI) and S B Deolankar (retired professor, University of Pune) for their help and advice during various stages of this work.

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