A Decade of the Maharashtra Groundwater Legislation: Analysis of the Implementation Process

Sanjiv Phansalkar & Vivek Kher
Corresponding author: Sanjiv Phansalkar,
Sr. Researcher and Team Leader
IWMI-Tata Water Policy Programme
Elecon, Anand Sojitra Road, VU Nagar
Anand-388120, India


Maharashtra is among the few states in India that has enacted and implemented legislation to regulate the use of groundwater. The Act, known as Maharashtra Groundwater (Regulation for Drinking Water Purposes) Act 1993 stipulates inter alia, a minimum distance of 500 metres between a public drinking water source (PWS) and a well or a bore well of any farmer not used for that purpose. It provides for restriction of using pre-existing wells for non-drinking water purpose during certain times, empowers the Government to take over, remove the Water Extraction Mechanisms, and cut power supply or permanently close offending wells or bore wells. We find that in the most acutely water scarce area of Vidarbha in Maharashtra, there is wide, though imprecise awareness about the provisions of the Act. There is also a near complete absence of social support for the legislation. In fact farmers 'using their own water' are not considered as offenders even if their actions clash with the Act. The rural people as well as the office bearers of the Gram Panchayat appear reluctant and seem to be 'revengeful' towards those who are doing no worse than trying to earn incomes by using water for raising oranges. Instead of invoking the Act, people prefer to approach higher elected leaders and exercise pressure for creation of 'upgraded' drinking water facilities. Due to absence of this social legitimacy and the provision that unless the Gram Panchayat makes a formal complaint about violation of the spacing norm no action can be initiated, the Act has not been particularly effective in protecting the drinking water sources.

Drinking water, groundwater, implementation process, legislation, Maharashtra, spacing norms for wells.  

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