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Participatory Ground Water Management


Presently ground water irrigates more than 60% of the total irrigated area in the country. Most rural domestic water supply is also ground water. Ground water is relatively less tapped in the Himalayan states with an average use of 15%. The median value of this use is 9%, which is an indication of the low use.
It is essentially subsistence use. Perennial springs in the Himalayas provide local communities with drinking water in lean periods. Ground water resources are not only threatened by over extraction and inadequate recharge, but also are increasingly polluted. In addition to biological contamination they sometimes also suffer from contamination with arsenic, fluoride, iron, nitrates and salinity.

Despite these constraints the management and conservation of ground water resources are not considered in mainstream watershed management and other government programmes. The unity of ground and surface water in the hydrological cycle is often not acknowledged. It is heartening that this deficiency in planning is acknowledged in the mid-term appraisal of the Eleventh Plan which mentions the phenomenon of ‘hydroschizophrenia’ which is the disjointed view of the various components of the hydrological cycle.

These problems have prompted a group of organizations (Arghyam, ACWADAM, ACT, PSI and WASSAN) to work together to promote integration of geo-hydrology and mainstream watershed management with a focus on issues of equity and quality.

The project goal is to establish a Resource Centre at People’s Science Institute (PSI) to advance the sustainable and equitable management of ground water resources in India’s central-western Himalayan region. The program involves establishing similar resource centres to work towards the goal in other parts of India.

PSI aims to create awareness using a three-tier approach. Initially the training sessions will create a pool of trained persons working in water resources in the central Himalayas. Simultaneously, the implementation of action research projects will demonstrate the validity of creating community institutions for ground water management. The knowledge from these action research projects and partner experiences will enable advocacy.

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Developed by: People's Science Institute, Dehra Doon, Uttarakhand, India