Groundwater governance in India: stumbling blocks for law and compliance

This report analyses the non-binding policy as well as legal and institutional framework for groundwater governance in India. It puts special focus on implementation, enforcement and compliance matters in practice, drawing from experience in the States of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The case studies show how lack of political will, path dependency, insufficient integration and inadequate capacity at implementing authorities remain stumbling blocks for compliance with the prevailing law. The regulation of India’s vital groundwater resources is in need of reform, to depart from the conventional command and control system and provide for efficiency gains and improved institutional arrangements. Decentralised governance and greater user participation in aquifer mapping may be useful components in order to confront problems shaped by low legitimacy.