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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Providing groundwater solutions in India a complex matter: Experts

"Today, there are several sectors that are dependent on groundwater resources. There is a greater need for the integration of management and governance of groundwater," said Himanshu Kulkarni, executive director, ACWADAM.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
July 21, 2021 1:57:58 am
"Today, there are several sectors that are dependent on groundwater resources. There is a greater need for the integration of management and governance of groundwater," said Himanshu Kulkarni, executive director, ACWADAM.

Arriving at groundwater solutions in India is highly complex, given that its distribution is skewed and there are gaps in data availability on this natural resource.

This was stated by experts during the introductory webinar of the four-part webinar series titled ‘Re-imagining Groundwater Governance with special emphasis on India’, organised by the Pune-based Advanced Center for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM) on Tuesday.

“Today, there are several sectors that are dependent on groundwater resources. There is a greater need for the integration of management and governance of groundwater,” said Himanshu Kulkarni, executive director, ACWADAM.

Yet another problem, with respect to groundwater in the country, was its distribution and equity, said Srinivasan Iyer of the Ford Foundation, whose grant has facilitated this international webinar.

“Beyond geography, groundwater distribution is centered around some power structures in India. These can be based on urban or rural localities, communities, societal setups, class and gender. All these make offering any groundwater solution a complex matter,” said Iyer.

Given India’s large size with varying topography, experts noted how a single state as an administration for groundwater management can be a tricky business and ineffective in its conservation.

For instance, Maharashtra and Karnataka are dominated by hard rock aquifers; Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have mixed aquifers; Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have alluvial aquifers whereas the Himalayan states have all together different aquifers also influenced by tectonic activities.

“There can, hence, be no single solution for groundwater governance and management,” added Kulkarni, who stressed on the urgent need for policies that will secure and help sustain good practices along with involving people’s behaviour while addressing groundwater solutions here.

From the time India became independent, till the 1990s, the number of wells in the country grew from 3,000 to a staggering 30 million, said Marcus Moench, groundwater researcher, founder and chairman of the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition – International.

He said, “Early on, people presumed that groundwater was unlimited. Introduction of mechanisation then became the game changer, in addition to the many government incentives offered to people in India. The biggest challenge now is tackling the huge dependence on such a large number of wells.”

The webinar series, which will touch upon topics like inclusive groundwater governance, its understanding through trans-disciplinary science and more, will be held every Tuesday and concludes on August 10.

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