A community-based approach to groundwater resource management could save water resources while also raising farmers' income, says a study released by the World Bank.
"Grassroots water management is critical for successful groundwater management," said Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal at a workshop that accompanied the report release.
More than 65 per cent of India's irrigated agriculture depends on groundwater. India has more than 20 million tube wells. Farmers withdraw water at random, with the result that a third of India's groundwater aquifers have been critically overdrawn, says the report, titled Deep Wells and Prudence.
"Farmers don't make a lot of money, so any intervention has to focus on raising their income," said Sanjay Pahuja, the World Bank's Senior Water Resources Specialist in India and lead author of the report.
Community groundwater approaches like APFAMGS, a five-year project in drought-prone Andhra Pradesh, are critical, says the study. Twelve nonprofits together implemented APFAMGS, a system of collective groundwater management, in 650 villages in seven drought-prone areas of Andhra Pradesh.