Friday, April 16, 2010

Method in madness

It is only during the last five decades that groundwater has become the mainstay of Indian economy, over 85 per cent of drinking water and 60 per cent of irrigation supplies are now dependant on it. Wide availability of affordable water extraction devices triggered this dramatic turnabout from a canal-based irrigation economy of the colonial era. However, it helped poor farmers break free of the hydraulic limits imposed by gravity and open channel flow.

The technology that helped rural poor from droughts and famines has become its nemesis, threatening already depleted aquifers through over-draft and pollution. In the absence of effective legislation, unregulated groundwater extraction has created unprecedented groundwater anarchy. The situation is far more serious than it may seem, the social and economic consequences of shrinking groundwater reserves could be devastating.

Tushar Shah prisms the groundwater anarchy from economic, political and historical perspectives to argue that the state and the water bureaucracy have become mute spectators to the crises that is fast unfolding. The book lists a series of out-of-box solutions that may only help transform inhumane anarchy into humane anarchy provided the out-of-sync water bureaucracy is willing to shed its colonial civil engineering mindset.
Taming the Anarchy is an authoritative treatise on groundwater governance that offers incisive insights and powerful ideas for planners and policymakers to rid the region of its groundwater madness. The book warrants wider readership, should a popular version be available....Link
Taming the Anarchy                                                                                                                                     by Tushar Shah                                                                                                                                Routledge, New Delhi                                                                                                                                    310 pages, Rs 695

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