Sustaining groundwater: role of policy reforms in promoting conservation in India

Groundwater depletion has become an increasingly important policy concern in many countries around the world especially so in India, which is the largest user of groundwater for irrigation. Groundwater is contended to have ushered green revolution in the country. However, a downside to this pattern of development is that it is not sustainable. As in other countries, the stocks of groundwater are rapidly depleting in India. Against this backdrop, it is important to understand what policies can help conserve this vital resource. This study uses data from observation and monitoring wells of the country to identify depletion hot-spots and evaluate the impact of two policies rainwater harvesting mandates and delaying of paddy transplanting time- on water tables. Rain water harvesting mandates did not have salutary effects on water tables in the short run and delayed transplanting of paddy resulted in increased use of groundwater.