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

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More on Participatory Aquifer Mapping

Apropos of the letter “Dangers in Participatory Aquifer Mapping” (16 February 2013), it is important to understand the background regarding the groundwater crisis in India. Eshwer Kale cautions us about the need to think about participatory aquifer mapping and regulation before rolling these out on a large scale. Such caution is required, but it should not be a deterrent to an exercise that promises a common pool approach to managing groundwater resources. India’s approach until quite recently was programmed towards searching for newer groundwater sources even as we took giant steps in applying water for irrigation and other needs.

The introduction of a common pool approach to groundwater management cannot move forward without an understanding of the diverse aquifer setting in India at the scales of villages, habitations, watersheds, river basins and even towns and cities. Decentralised groundwater access has helped improve the lives and livelihoods of millions of Indian farmers but has led to resource anarchy. The consequences have been groundwater depletion, scarcity and contamination, leading to a gross vulnerability in about 60% of India’s districts. It is being stated that the 1972 drought was about food scarcity, whereas the 2013 drought is about an extremely serious water crisis, the magnitude of which cannot be easily fathomed.

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