Review of book: Clean and Sustainable Groundwater in India

With nearly 30 million wells having sprung up during the last half century, India is a global hotspot of groundwater use. The book Clean and Sustainable Ground Water in India, edited by Dipankar Saha, Sanjay Marwaha, and Arunangshu Mukherjee and published by Springer, offers a window to the prevailing challenges and promising opportunities in the water sector in India. Clean and Sustainable Groundwater in India The book emerges in its present form from distillation of key deliberations made during the National Dialogue on Groundwater organised under the aegis of the Central Ground Water Board, an organisation under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India. The book introduces the reader to a wide spectrum of issues besieging the groundwater sector in India, ranging from groundwater quality, artificial recharge, conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater, and participatory governance.

In the foreword to the book by Dr Amarjit Singh, ensuring clean and sustainable development of groundwater resources is the challenge confronting groundwater professionals, planners, policy makers, researchers and stakeholders. Dr Mihir Shah, indicates in a second foreword that the genesis of the groundwater problem in India is intricately tied to what was once considered as a solution to ensuring food security in the country. To quote Dr Shah, “The deep drilling of tube wells that was once part of the solution to the problem of water shortage now threatens to become a part of the problem itself”. The two forewords thus make a convincing statement on the genesis of the problem and associated challenges. The chapters of the book have been structured into four themes and include (i) six papers on groundwater quality (ii) two papers on conjunctive use (iii) eight papers on various management interventions for sustainable groundwater and (iv) three papers on application of emerging technologies. The introductory paper by the editors of the book presents a vivid account of the groundwater scenario in India and introduces the readers to the entire gamut of challenges facing the groundwater sector in India besides introducing in brief the various chapters of the book.

The tilt of the book towards aspects related to groundwater contamination is counterbalanced by papers like the one by Dr Tushaar Shah titled “Towards a managed aquifer recharge strategy for Gujarat, India: An economist’s dialogue with hydrogeologists”. The author highlights the need for transdisciplinary perspectives on groundwater governance and argues that the success of the managed aquifer recharge lies in the extent to which the strategy is adaptive, inter-sectoral and multi-scalar in nature.

The book would be of immense interest, not only for the specialists dealing with groundwater issues but it also offers an  engaging read to all those who are interested in the recent advances and trends in groundwater in India.

Shailendra Nath Dwivedi
Central Ground Water Board
Ministry of Water Resources, RD& GR, Govt. of India

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