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Participatory Aquifer Management

Since groundwater accounts for nearly two-thirds of India's irrigation and 80 per cent of domestic water needs, the 12th Plan advocates the adoption of a participatory approach to sustainable management of groundwater based on aquifer mapping that takes into account the common pool resource (CPR) nature of groundwater.

It is this understanding that underpins the comprehensive programme for the mapping of India's aquifers initiated during the 12th Plan.

This requires an understanding based on the following aspects:

  • • Relationship between surface hydrologic units (watersheds and river basins) and hydro geological units, i.e. aquifers;
  • • The broad lithological setup constituting the aquifer with some idea about the geometry of the aquifer - extent and thickness;
  • • Identification of Groundwater recharge areas, resulting in protection and augmentation strategies;
  • • Groundwater balance and crop-water budgeting at the scale of a village or watershed;
  • • Groundwater assessment at the level of each individual aquifer in terms of groundwater storage and transmission characteristics, including the aquifer storage capacity;
  • • Regulatory options at community level, including drilling depth (or whether to drill tube wells or bore wells at all), distances between wells (especially with regard to drinking water sources), cropping pattern that ensures sustainability of the resource (aquifer) and not just the source (well/ tubewell), comprehensive plan for participatory groundwater management based on aquifer understanding, bearing in mind principles of equitable distribution of groundwater across all stakeholders. Each of these will be the central focus of the National Aquifer Management Programme being launched in the 12th Plan.
 
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