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Water Crisis in India: Innovative Approaches and Policy Imperatives for Sustainable Management of Groundwater Resource

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Nagaraj, N.; Fujita, Koichi
Conference: Sustaining Commons: Sustaining Our Future, the Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Hyderabad, India
Conf. Date: January 10-14
Date: 2011
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/7214
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): property rights
Abstract: "Irrigation has a prime role in Indian agriculture, as 40 percent of the cultivated area is irrigated and 70 percent of the irrigated area is devoted to food crops to meet the needs of the ever growing population. While surface irrigation has been stagnating, groundwater irrigation has been increasing. In 1998, the groundwater extraction was 38 percent, which increased to 58 percent in 2009. Policies towards electricity, credit, technological innovations in well exploration, extraction and use, demographic shifts, lucrative product markets and week groundwater institutions are contributing to over-extraction. Since four decades, groundwater extraction exhibited a trajectory of utilization, boom, growing scarcity and eventually bust with rapid fall in groundwater table in the hard-rock aquifers. This has forced several marginal and small farmers to shift to dryland agriculture. The ineffective institutions efforts of the governance to contain groundwater overdraft have proved in vain. The challenge is thus to frame effective institutions focusing on resource management rather than resource development. Thus far, supply side of groundwater is being addressed by the State through schemes such as watershed development, tank rehabilitation, while the demand side is inadequately dealt. Thus key actions are necessary for demand management on individual and community basis. The community based approach to regulate groundwater incorporating IWRM is by promoting user groups with technical support and training. Major policy changes on energy and technical aspects in accurate assessment of groundwater recharge and extraction, maintenance of isolation distance, quality pumpsets, information dissemination, implementation of the best practices and appropriate crop pattern are in order."

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