A Study on Law Relating to Groundwater Recharge in India* by P. Sakthivel, S. Amirthalingam, M. Starkl

Introduction

Groundwater is the most extracted resource on the earth[i]. The groundwater depletion and pollution has initiated political and legal controversies in recent times[ii]. The past ten years have witnessed the discussions on various options to overcome the difficulties posed by groundwater depletion. The ‘artificial recharge methods’ and ‘rainwater harvesting’ are the ideas usually found in these discussions. This paper addresses the law and policy issues relating to groundwater recharge, but it has used a term (Managed Aquifer Recharge) which is not often used in the legal discussions. ‘Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR)’, is emerging as a holistic approach to various groundwater recharge philosophies and the paper explains the rational for choosing this term.

The gap between the policy and law started widening ever since the legislation relating to environmental protection is made in India. The depletion of groundwater, the state expenditure relating to drinking water supply, climate change issues[iii], groundwater extraction by electric power, and mechanism to extract water from deep bore wells has initiated policy and law making initiatives. These initiatives include various groundwater recharge policies, programmes and laws. The paper surveys and identifies the gaps in law and policy relating to groundwater recharge as they seem to be not harmonious.

Managed Aquifer Recharge: An approach for future

Any discussion on groundwater governance, policy and law includes a deliberation on the groundwater recharge. The terms used to denote groundwater recharge processes includes artificial and natural recharge, aquifer recharge and rainwater harvesting. This term is widely used in water polices and official papers[iv]  of the state in recent times. A brief introduction to MAR will explain the reasons for preferring this term in this paper.

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