|Efficiency and Equity In Groundwater Use And Management - Workshop Report 3 (IRMA, 1989)|
Groundwater is one of the most valuable rural natural resources in India. Unlike many mineral resources, groundwater is a renewable resource. However, this does not minimise the need for its efficient use. For, injudicious use may effect permanent ecological damage as is evident from the permanent lowering of water table or the intrusion of sea water in coastal aquifers due to overdraw in many areas of India. The safety first rule would, therefore, suggest that the rate of groundwater use is restricted to the rate of recharge from rainfall, seepage from canals and rivers, etc. The development and propagation of energy efficient and compact engines and pumps which have increased the rate at which groundwater can be pumped from wells has facilitated the exploitation of groundwater resources as well as the adoption of the green revolution technology. But these have also increased the danger of over-exploitation.
Since much groundwater development so far has taken place at private initiative, existing distribution of benefits flowing from groundwater use are unequitable in several sense; moreover, since over 2/3rd of India's known groundwater potential is yet undeveloped and will most likely be developed in the next two decades, it is possible and necessary to think of ways to ensure greater equity in the appropriation of this potential. For, in many areas of the Indian sub-continent with large concentration of groundwater resources as well as of rural poor, equitable appropriation of groundwater can be a powerful strategy against rural poverty.
Several social science researchers have, in the last few years, addressed themselves to some of these questions. These include a loosely networked group of researchers and scientists based at several institutions many of whom, over the last four years, have met frequently to discuss efficiency and equity issues in groundwater management. This report summarises the discussion that took place at a workshop organised by the Institute of Rural Management and the Ford Foundation at Anand during 30 January-1 February, 1989. The Workshop brought together some 48 scholars from home and abroad to review and discuss new ideas and evidence on the subject and to suggest directions for future research.