Electricity reforms and their impact on ground water use in states of Gujarat, West Bengal and Uttarakhand, India
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Mukherji, A., Shah, T. and S. Verma. 2010. Electricity reforms and their impact on ground water use in states of Gujarat, West Bengal and Uttarakhand, India. In Lundqvist, J. (ed.) 2010. On the Water Front: Selections from the 2009 World Water Week in Stockholm. Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Stockholm.
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Indian policy discourse on the most suitable form of agricultural electricity tariff has come full circle. Until the early 1970s, all state electricity boards (SEBs) charged their tubewell owners based on metered consumption, but, due to a whole range of administrative issues, this was later changed to a flat tariff in the early 1980s. However, the flat tariffs remained low over the years and the SEBs started making large losses. Low flat tariffs also led to the over-exploitation of groundwater in arid and semi-arid states of India. Therefore, recently, there has been a renewed interest in reforming the electricity sector. This has been triggered by the poor financial status of most SEBs. The main element of electricity sector reform has been the unbundling of services – that is, the separation of the electricity generation, transmission and distribution functions and the universal metering of all consumers. Almost 50% of India’s pumps depend on electricity for pumping groundwater and hence, reforms in this sector profoundly affect the groundwater sector.