|Efficiency and Equity In Groundwater Use And Management - Workshop Report 3 (IRMA, 1989)|
The Workshop began with an overview paper by Saksena (1) which addressed issues related to the availability and utilisation of groundwater resources at all India and State levels. Saksena gave two different estimatesfirst made by the CGWB and second by the respective State Governments of the extent of groundwater utilisation. These are presented in a summary form in Table 1; also presented are the latest estimates of groundwater recharge made by CGWB as reported by Padmanabhan (1988).
The two estimates of utilisation rates differ and need reconciliation and revision in the estimates of potential and utilization. The total area irrigated and total withdrawal of groundwater thus do not match and, as a result, available estimates of groundwater potential and its exploitation still lack firmness (Dhawan). In a 1972 symposium organised by the Central Board of Irrigation and Power on - 'Integrated Development of Surface and Subsurface Water Resources', estimates of groundwater potential of various regions of India were presented. Our cursory review of the discussion in that symposium and its comparison with data presented in the workshop at IRMA, suggests that the estimates of groundwater availability tend to increase with improvement in the estimation procedures; and yet, these proceduresas well as our overall understanding about our groundwater resources and their use have not improved significantly in the intervening period in spite of the revolution in groundwater utilization and tubewell technology in recent years.
The availability of groundwater depends upon rainfall, and the geological and hydrological configuration of a region. Geo-hydrologically, India could be divided into three categories (refer to the map) (i) unconsolidated, (ii) semi-consolidated and (iii) consolidated regions. The unconsolidated region has biggest groundwater potential followed by the semi-consolidated region. The region most poorly endowed with groundwater is consolidated area of entire South Indian Peninsula, consisting of hardrock regions.
The utilization of groundwater also varies considerably across regions. Even within the unconsolidated region, the level of utilization is not uniform. In the north-western region (western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab), the withdrawal of groundwater has exceeded 80 per cent of the known potential. In contrast, in the eastern Gangetic region, where groundwater potential is greater, the utilization is poor. Water is a key input in modern agriculture and determines, to a considerable extent, the level of agricultural production and income. Groundwater irrigation table1 provides a high degree of control to the farmer and thereby contributes more to income and output than canal irrigation does in most areas. Access to and control over groundwater have therefore important implications for equity and income distribution in rural communities. The access and control, in turn, are determined by the institutional mechanisms and arrangements to exploit groundwater.
The Workshop, therefore, was organised in six different sessions, the first three focussed on overall equity and efficiency issues in each of the three regions Eastern -Gangetic plain; North-West India and Pakistan; and hardrock areas of Southern India and remaining three focussed on institutional arrangements public tubewells; community managed wells; and water markets. We present the report in the same order and add a separate section on legal issues related to groundwater use. Because of its importance, the participants took active interest in it. We summarise some of these issues and discussions and report on the questions to be included in the agenda for future research.