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Groundwater governance: A tale of three participatory models in Andhra Pradesh, India

V. Ratna Reddy
Livelihoods and Natural Resources Management Institute (LNRMI), Hyderabad, India; vratnareddy@lnrmi.ac.in

M. Srinivasa Reddy
Research Unit for Livelihoods and Natural Resources (RULNR), Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), Hyderabad, India; sreenivasdrreddy@yahoo.com

Sanjit Kumar Rout
Livelihoods and Natural Resources Management Institute (LNRMI), Hyderabad, India; sanjitrout2003@yahoo.co.uk

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the possible options for community based groundwater management in India. The main focus of the study is to understand the functioning and efficiency of groundwater management institutions by comparing and contrasting three participatory groundwater models in Andhra Pradesh. The paper assesses the operational modalities and the impact of these institutions on access, equity and sustainability of groundwater use using the qualitative and quantitative information from three sample villages representing the institutional models.Social regulation approach is observed to work better for sustainable groundwater management when compared to the knowledge-intensive approach, as the latter is not designed to address equity. Water use and sharing through regulation has benefits like increased area under protective irrigation. In the absence of any regulations, formal or informal, and in the given policy environment, the farmers do not have any incentive to follow good practices. Thus, encouraging water sharing between well owners and others would contribute to achieving the twin objectives of conservation and improved access with equity. However, community-based groundwater management is neither simple nor easily forthcoming. It requires a lot of effort, working through complex rural dynamics at various levels, since appropriate policies to support or encourage such initiatives are not in place. It is argued that there is need for developing an integrated model drawing from these three models in order to make it more generic and applicable globally. Such a model should integrate scientific, socioeconomic and policy aspects that suit the local conditions.

KEYWORDS: Groundwater, governance, participatory management, social regulation, India