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

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Dangers in Participatory Aquifer Mapping

Dangers in Participatory Aquifer Mapping

The article “Water: Towards a Paradigm Shift in the Twelfth Plan” by Mihir Shah (EPW, 19 January 2013) creates hope that the proposed measures will help to make water resource use more sustainable and equitable. The introduction of and provisions for the National Irrigation Management Fund, the convergence of MGNREGA with watershed restoration and groundwater recharge, the habitation-saturation approach to meet the water and sanitation challenges, and the idea of a National Water Law seem to be a few very much necessary measures that are being offered in the Twelfth Plan. However, there is an urgent need to seriously rethink participatory aquifer mapping and regularity mechanism solutions before they are applied to the water sector in India.

The main objective of participatory aquifer mapping is to develop sustainable groundwater management plans for each aquifer at the village/micro-watershed level. Though this exercise may help us to know the groundwater stock in specific aquifers for better groundwater management, we need to be very cautious about the hidden dangers. Aquifer mapping is expected to develop the knowledge of the local communities about the aquifers and groundwater issues. In other words with this exercise communities are going to be literate about the sources of groundwater stocks in their areas. Now how will communities apply and utilise this newly-generated knowledge about groundwater? Are we equipped to prevent the blind race of “groundwater-mining” by irrigation-source owners in the identified aquifers which may result in serious groundwater depletion leading to further groundwater scarcity?

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