Chapter 5: When the genie is out of the bottle: the case of dynamic groundwater markets in West Bengal, India
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Water markets have long been touted as a means of resolving conflicts over water scarcity and acting as a vehicle to allocate water resources efficiently. The market readiness assessment framework offers a practical guide to those seeking to develop water markets and thereby address emerging concerns about water scarcity. However, it’s not clear how the framework could be used in circumstances where water markets have already emerged in developing countries and continue to evolve in response to the changing administrative and policy environments that circumscribe them. This chapter offers insights into the functioning of existing groundwater markets in West Bengal. We trace the evolution of those markets and consider complex interactions that are occurring as governments modify policies and incentives relating to different pumping technologies. We then consider how the market readiness assessment framework might be reconfigured to offer benefits to policymakers dealing with such a dynamic and challenging landscape.

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