Mass Production vs. Production by the Masses
CSE Conference on the potential of water harvesting
Catching Water for the President


Real power to the people
Hydrological Data Anyone?
The Government on Ground Water






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Vol. 1                                    No. 1                              February 1999

Real power to the people
Government attempts at getting ‘people’s participation’ in projects may have been farcical in the past, but the Madhya Pradesh (MP) government has showed the way by putting people in charge of their water.

Though it is difficult for the government to regulate and monitor natural resources, the MP government has made a novel effort to manage water by setting up Village Watershed Management Committees. The programme is outstanding because of the total involvement of people in projects for the development and management of traditional water resources.

Dreams come true: an overflowing well in Jhabua, proof of the dramatic recharge of groundwater

The state government promotes the programme through the involvement of Gram Sabhas. NGOs play a supportive role in promoting local-level institutions and the government provides technical and financial support. Ownership rights are given to the people to ensure their participation.

Unlike many state governments, the MP government saw participation not in the limited definition of ‘I command, you participate’, but handed over ownership rights of the resources to the people. It gave communities the right to develop their own laws, and asked them to prepare a citizens’ report on water.

Monitoring the use of surface water and groundwater is not only technically impractical but also difficult to regulate for the government. So the Village Watershed Committees of MP are likely to get the powers to authorise water use and ensure its sustainable management.

The Water Reports to be created by the watershed committees are expected to maintain data regarding water in the region. They could be improved by including information on the impact of water management on the vegetation and the lives of the people.

Learning from Chennai, the MP government has also started experiments with urban water harvesting, and made laws that make it necessary for carrying out rainwater harvesting measures in new buildings in the towns of Devas and Sagar.


Hydrological data, Anyone?
Data on hydrology is scarce to come by in India. A project of the World Bank, which aims to set up a Hydrology Information System (HIS), may soon set things right. HIS aims to provide comprehensive, user-friendly and easily accessible hydrological data for the Indian peninsular states — Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka,Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. States with an international border were excluded to avoid controversy over international river basins.


Hydrology Information System (HIS) aims to provide comprehensive, user-friendly and easily accessible hydrological data for the Indian peninsular states.


The project aims to strengthen and position new water monitoring devices, upgrade equipment at water quality laboratories, establish data centres and communication systems at regional and national levels, and train government staff. A Hydrology Data User Group (HDUG) is also planned to be set up. The HDUG will consist of members who need hydrology data for implementing development programmes, for research and for policy formulation. Nodal Officers should be contacted for information and for your inclusion in the HDUG (see the List of Nodal Officers). This will enable to identify the indicators for hydrological studies, to implement water harvesting projects\and for policy planning.

The data will be controlled by state agencies and will be available for NGOs, industrialists andresearch departments.But do not go looking for too much information on inter-state river flows — that is a touchy topic.

List of Nodal Officers, Hydrology Project

New Delhi

  • T K Mukhopadhayay, Director, River Data Directorate, Central Water Commission, 2nd Floor, Wing-4, West Block -1 R K Puram, New Delhi - 110 066.
  • S K Sharma, Member (SAM), Central Ground Water Board, NH-IV, Faridabad-121 001, Haryana.
  • B Lal, Deputy Director General, India Meteorological Department, Mausam Bhawan, Lodhi road, New Delhi-110 003.


  • S B Kulkarani, Joint Director, Central Water & Power Research Station, Post Office Khadakwasla Research Station, Pune-411 024.
  • M K Kulkarni, Chief Engineer,Hydrology Project, CDO Building, Nasik-422 004.
  • M D Pathak, Director Ground Water Surveys & Agency, PMT Building, Swargate, Pune-411 037.

Uttar Pradesh

  • K S Ramashastri, Scientist ‘F’, National Institute of Hydrology, Jal Vigyan Bhawan, Roorkee-247 667.

Andhra Pradesh

  • P Ramaraju, Superintending engineer & Project Administrator, Hydrology Project Circle, 6-3-653, 6th Floor, Pioneer House, Somajiguda, Hyderabad-500 082.
  • P Babu Rao, Director, Ground Water Department, BRKR, Government Office Complex, 7th and 8th floors, B-Block, Hyderabad-500 029.


  • B M Rao, Chief Engineer (D) & Joint Secretary, Narmada & Water Resources Department, Block-9, Ist Floor, New Sachivala Complex, Gandhi Nagar- 382 010.
  • M S Patel, Managing Director, GWRDC Ltd, Sector-10A, Gandhi Nagar-382 010.


  • M S Gnanawambandaw, Chief Engineer (I/c), Water Resources Development Organisation, Government of Karnataka, Anand Rao Circle, Bangalore-560 009
  • Basappa Reddy, Director, Department of Mines & Geology, S P Complex, Lal Bagh Road, Bangalore.


  • S T Thomas, Chief Engineer (Project II) and Nodal Officer for Hydrology Project, Irrigation Department, Public Office Building, Thiruvanathapuram.
  • A Abdul Majeed, Director Ground Water Department, Department of Kerala, Pattom Place P.O., Thiruvanathapuram-695 004.

Madhya Pradesh

  • B S Rajpoot, Chief Engineer (inv.), Water Resources Department, Narmada Bhawan, Bhopal-462 003.
  • M K Khanna, Superintending Engineer, (Superintending Geohydrologist) Ground Water Surveys Circle, Plot No.174, Zone-II, Maharana Pratap Nagar (Near Sargam Talkies), Bhopal-462 016.


  • B C Mohapatra, Director (Hydrometry), Office of the Engineer-in-chief, Water Resources Department, Secha Sadan, Bhuvaneshwar-751 001.
  • A K Patnaik, Director, Ground Water Surveys & Investigate, Block No.12 (pt), Unit-V, Bhuvaneshwar-751 001.

Tamil Nadu

  • Panchapakesan, Chief Engineer, WRO/PWD, State Ground Water, Government of Tamil Nadu, Chepauk, Chennai-600 005.
  • M Sriman Narayan, Technical Expert (Geology), c/o The Chief Engineer, State Ground Water/ PWD, Government of Tamil Nadu, Chepauk,Chennai-600 005.

The Government on Ground Water
The present water crisis in India has led the government to seriously consider groundwater. A proposal to evolve methods to harvest water in the ground water basin was made at the recently concluded seminar, ‘Artificial Recharge of Ground Water’. The seminar was organised by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) of the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, on December 15-16, 1998.


Rainwater if harvested, can recharge ground water reservoirs to irrigate 214.2 million hectare of land.


Inaugurating the seminar, Babagouda Patil, Union minister of state for rural areas and employment, emphasised the need to harvest rainwater to reverse the trend of falling groundwater levels in the country. In his welcome address, D K Chadha, chairperson of CGWB, stressed that rainwater can recharge groundwater reservoirs to irrigate 214.2 million hectare land. He called upon participants to evolve innovative designs to tap this potential. Arun Kumar, additional secretary with MWR, cautioned that such designs need to be relevant locally. For this, he called upon participants to evolve principles, methodology and applications of these designs. Z Hassan, secretary with the MWR, called for an integrated approach through watershed and inter-basin transfer of water by linking major rivers as means to recharge groundwater, especially in the east coast of the country. The seminar was expected to evolve common guidelines that are economically, technically and environmentally viable.

The seminar was attended by about 300 participants. About 52 papers were presented. Most participants were from CGWB offices in different parts of the country. The conference was divided into six different technical sessions. The first session put forth the use of remote sensing and geographical information systems (GIS) to identify water sources. GIS tools, if periodically checked and updated in the field, could be of immense potential for practitioners.

The second session centred around engineering techniques that have been tested or are likely to be experimented in the field. The third session looked into a broader issue of inter-basin transfer of water to recharge groundwater through a link canal or through diverting water from the upstream of a basin to the another. Though inter-basin transfer holds promise to mitigate water crises, S P Sinha Ray, who presented a paper, cautioned about social and environmental implications of the approach to recharge groundwater. Sinha said that large-scale link canals are generally expensive; technical problems are not easy to resolve. As the link canals cross two or more states, institutional and environmental problems arise.

The second day of the conference recognised the need to identify artificial recharge techniques in diverse hydrological environments in India. The case-studies represented the states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Punjab. The fifth session deliberated on low-cost roof-top water harvesting measures to recharge groundwater in urban areas. The papers in this session dealt with experiences in Chennai, the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, Nagpur and New Delhi. The case-study of New Delhi included areas from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the Indian Institute Technology (IIT), Sanjay Van and Malviya Nagar. In JNU and IIT, which comprise about 5 micro-watersheds, 0.46 million cubic metres (MCM) of stormwater gets drained out. To utilise the same, a number of storage structures were built, increasing the storage capacity to 49,000 cubic metres and recharging aquifers to the tune of 125,000 cubic metres. In IIT, roof-top water harvesting in 1,666 square metres has led to a recharge of about 800 cubic metres through injection wells. P L Diwan, who was one of the chairpersons of the session, pointed out that impact studies of these techniques was important. The sixth session dealt with the techno-economic aspects and called for institutional financing for artificial recharge projects.


Recharge techniques need to be blended with natural and traditional wisdom of recharge methods. However, social acceptability and economic viability of the technology needs to be explored.


Though the seminar was organised in response to the ‘crying need of the hour’, Arun Kumar, in his valedictory address, cautioned the participants on the technical measures: "We need to think and question all (techniques) and look for contextually relevant measures." S R Hasim, member (agriculture), the Planning Commission of the government of India, pointed out that these techniques need to be blended with natural and traditional wisdom of recharge methods. Concluding the seminar, Patil emphasised the need to study the social acceptability and economic viability of the techniques and work in coordination with social organisations, politicians, scientists, NGOs, administrators and engineers for a desired result.