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Naik, Gayathri D (2022) Water-related Subsidies and Groundwater Regulation in India: Social and Environmental Dimensions. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The role of groundwater in realising the fundamental right to water and food security of the nation is immense as it contributes to half of India's drinking water and irrigation water demands. However, the current groundwater legal framework based on the landwater nexus leads to inequitable access and allocation by restricting the benefits of groundwater access to landowners. The State interventions like water-related subsidies aim to address this inequitable access and allocations and ensure equity and inclusiveness in accessing groundwater drinking water supply and necessary inputs like technology and credit in groundwater-based irrigation. Nevertheless, factors like land rights, social discrimination, economic disparities, political choices, and bureaucratic interventions that influence and determine access to subsidies in drinking water and agriculture development schemes widen the inherent inequity in groundwater access and affect supply sustainability. Furthermore, the excessive use of subsidies and the current land-water nexus has led to groundwater and aquifers' depletion and deterioration, threatening the source sustainability and necessitating reconceptualization of our current legal, policy and administrative framework to address these ecological impacts of subsidies and groundwater extraction. This thesis explores the role of subsidies in equity and inclusiveness in groundwater access and allocation and examines the impacts and implications of subsidies on distributive and social equity and environmental sustainability in groundwater access and regulation in India. It uses a tripartite water justice framework based on distributive, social, and ecological justice and employs a socio-legal approach to analyse subsidies' contribution to groundwater access and sustainability. This thesis argues for a paradigm shift in groundwater regulation from the current land rights-based, anthropocentric water demands focused, curative approach to adopting ecological justice framework in water governance to balance human rights and environmental water needs.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
Keywords: Groundwater, Water-related Subsidies, Land-water Nexus, Water Justice
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Philippe Cullet
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2022 09:52
Funders: Other

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