Water security is widely recognized as one of the major challenges to India’s economic and social development. India’s groundwater dependence is alarmingly high. 80-90% of the rural drinking water supply, 40-50% of the urban drinking water supply and 65-70% irrigation, are dependent on groundwater.
Even though groundwater use has reached critical levels of exploitation, very little attention has been paid to its governance and to resource conservation and protection. Rather, the availability of groundwater has been attributed to chance that has triggered further extraction, which has now lead to a serious groundwater crisis in the country.
The water security in India compels urgent solutions to the unsustainable levels of demand for its dwindling groundwater supplies. But, given the multiple levels of the problem, this is no simple task. “Bottom-up” community management could be the only key to this. Actual implementation of this strategy at the ground level will require a framework on groundwater governance, which is about decision-making on groundwater and involves individuals and/or organized entities at various levels. It involves the promotion of responsible collective action to ensure socially sustainable utilization and effective protection of groundwater resources for the benefit of humankind and dependent ecosystems.