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

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A Fairy Tale on Groundwater

A Fairy Tale on Groundwater

The article entitled “Will the Impact of the 2009 Drought Be Different from 2002?” (EPW, 12 September 2009) by Tushaar Shah et al reads like a fairy tale in its content, arguments and conclusions.

The argument about using groundwater as a “water bank” during droughts is convoluted. The authors simply ignore the fact that the hard rock aquifers, which cover two-thirds of India’s geographical area, have very poor storage potential, and that these regions have too little surface water in their basins in bad years for storing in aquifers. In years of good monsoon, these poor aquifers get fully replenished and do not offer any space for extra storage. But, we do not get any surplus run-off from catchments of these basins for storing in the empty aquifers during the drought years. Also, water demand for agriculture goes up exponentially during such years. Unfortunately, the water supply and demand situation in India with respect to space and time is such that the only way to “operationalise” the idea of groundwater banking is to transfer surplus run-off from perennially water-rich basins to waterscarce areas with depleted aquifers in years of droughts.

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