Indirect levers

There are potentially powerful indirect demand-management strategies that are not even part of the academic discussion on groundwater management in the developing world. For example, it has been suggested that India Punjab's groundwater depletion problems could be easier to resolve if its export of 'virtual' groundwater in the form of rice could be reduced or stopped. IWMI researchers have suggested that in the North Indian plains, using earthen canals for recharging with flood water of monsoon rains can help counter groundwater depletion (IWMI-Tata Water Policy Briefing 1). Water-saving irrigation research - such as Alternate Wet and Dry Irrigation (AWADI) for rice in China or the System of Rice Intensification, which has found enthusiastic following in scores of countries including India and Sri Lanka (Satyanarayana, 2005; Sinha and Talati, 2005) - can help reduce groundwater use; but it needs to be examined if these technologies would work as well in dry areas. In many developing countries, pricing and supply of electricity to tube well owners can offer powerful levers for agricultural demand management for groundwater. Since levying a price on groundwater itself may entail high transaction costs of collection, energy price can serve as a useful 'surrogate' (Scott and Shah 2004; Shah et a/., 2004c).

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