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Managing groundwater resources in rural India : the community and beyond



The use ofgroundwaterinIndiahasgrownenormouslysincethe1960s.Today,\ud groundwater provides a critical source of domestic and irrigation water, and\ud also underpins efforts toreduce vulnerability, support livelihoods and sustain\ud food security.Thisreflectsthefact thatgroundwater canbeaccessedrelatively\ud easily and cheaply andprovides a reliable, and usually high quality, source of\ud supply.\ud In many areas of India, however, there is\ud increasing evidence that the intensity of\ud groundwaterexploitationisnotsustainable-as\ud a resultofsustainedperiodsofabstractionthat\ud exceed long-term rainfall recharge or cause\ud significant localised dewatering of aquifers -\ud andthatwellyieldsaredecreasing.Thereduced\ud access to groundwater may disproportionately\ud affect poorer households - for example assetpoor\ud farmers locked into the groundwater\ud economy - and those dependent on shallow,\ud communitywellsfortheirdrinkingwater.\ud Addressing the problem of groundwater\ud overdraft in India is a subject of major debate.\ud Conventional wisdom prescribes a mix of\ud regulatory and economic reforms to control\ud groundwater use and balance demand and\ud supply. Implementing such reforms, however,\ud andcreatingmanagement organisations withthemandate,reachandcapacity\ud to influencethedecisionsof millionsofgroundwaterusers, isahugechallenge.\ud Against this background,\ud is an attractive idea, particularly in the context of\ud political and administrative decentralisation, and the shift towards more\ud bottom-upplanningprocesses

Topics: Earth Sciences
Publisher: British Geological Survey
Year: 2005
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