Groundwater Law in India – Towards a Framework Ensuring Equitable Access and Aquifer Protection

26/1 Journal of Environmental Law (2014), p. 55-81, 23 January 2014

Groundwater law in India gives individual landowners overwhelming control over groundwater. This is inappropriate in a context where groundwater is now the main source of water for the realisation of the human right to water. This also fails to provides the basis for effective protection of groundwater at aquifer level. Increasing dependence on groundwater for all the main water uses has made the need for reforms of the legal framework increasingly acute. This article argues that groundwater law must be reconceived around a new set of principles that recognise the common nature of groundwater, its importance in realising the human right to water, the need for a governance framework starting at the local level and the need for a strong aquifer protection regime. The proposed new framework is then examined in the context of the Groundwater Model Bill, 2011 that reflects in large part this new framework.