Dr. Himanshu Kulkarni leads ACWADAM, a not-for-profit knowledge institution and think-tank working on groundwater since 1998. He is a hydrogeologist by qualification – PhD from Pune University in 1987 - and has been working on aquifers and groundwater across India’s diverse groundwater typology for more than 35 years. He has been a CSIR research scholar, UNESCO scholar and a Fulbright Fellow at different times of his career.
ACWADAM has partnered with a variety of organisations on piloting and mainstreaming the ideas of participatory groundwater management and springshed management across India, neighbouring Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam and has begun work in Africa. ACWADAM’s work under Dr. Kulkarni has followed the principle of bringing communities closer to their aquifers and managing groundwater as a common pool resource through the process of Aquifer-based Participatory Groundwater Management. He has, through ACWADAM, steered the concept of hydrogeology based ‘springshed’ management that has now become so important from local to national levels in India and its neighbouring regions. Dr. Kulkarni has, before co-founding ACWADAM, worked at Pune University for 13 years, after which he also worked with the corporate sector for a couple of years.
Through ACWADAM’s collaboration with educational institutions, Dr. Kulkarni works as adjunct faculty and course advisor at Shiv Nadar University for the post-graduate course on Water Science and Policy. He is also visiting faculty and a member of the Board of Studies at TISS, Mumbai. He has supervised 2 PhDs and many post-graduate dissertations. He continues to advise Government of India and has held many advisory positions on various committees of the Government. Dr. Kulkarni has anchored several international action research collaborations in the subject of groundwater, particularly in his lead role at ACWADAM.
Key credentials of Dr. Kulkarni
- Member, Drafting Committee, India’s National Water Policy, Ministry of Jal Shakti (Water Resources), Government of India, 2019-20.
- Member, Advisory Committee, Water Strategy Development, Government of MP.
- Jury Member, FICCI Water Awards, 2019 & 2020.
- Lead Author (along with Dr. Akhilesh Gupta, Adviser, DST, Govt. if India), Report of Working Group 1: Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security, as part of the NITI Aayog (Government of India) initiative on Sustainable Development in Indian Himalayan Region, 2018.
- Special presentations in Jaipur and Chennai on “Groundwater Management in India” during two workshops for teams conducting Scientific Audit of the national programme on Groundwater Management and Governance, on invitation from the office of Comptroller and Auditor General of India, August 2018.
- Member, Committee on drafting the Water Policy for the state of Karnataka, India through the Karnataka Jnana Aayoga. Chaired the sub-committee on ‘Groundwater and its interaction with surface water’, 2017-18.
- Member, State Advisory Board on Water Resources Planning, Government of Maharashtra & 2030 WRG, 2018 - current.
- Member, High Level Committee on reforming and restructuring CWC and CGWB, the two apex institutions dealing with surface water and groundwater under Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, 2015-16. Chaired and co-chaired the sub-groups on Groundwater and Capacity Building respectively. Also, played a major role in drafting out the main report
- Member, committee to review drafts of the following water legislations under Ministry of Water Resources: Model bill on Conservation, Protection and Regulation of Ground Water, 2011, Draft National Water Framework Law, and Draft River Basin Management – 2015-17. Also, Member, Committee on reviewing Draft Water Framework Law and Draft Model Bill on Groundwater Protection and Management, 2011, MoWR, GoI.
- Chairman working group on Sustainable Groundwater Management, on invitation from Planning Commission, Government of India, in preparation of 12th Five Year Plan. Wrote up major sections of the Working Group Report on groundwater for the 12th Plan – 2010-11. (Chairman, CGWB – GoI, was the Co-chair of the Working Group).
- Member, Steering Committee, Water Resources, Planning Commission, Government of India –2010-11; Member, High Level Committee to Study Water Logging and Soil Salinisation constituted by Planning Commission, Government of India, for Government of Punjab–2011-2013.
- Current and past Memberships: International Association of Hydrogeologists, International Association of Hydrological Sciences; Geological Society of India; Indian Society of Remote Sensing; Indian Society of Geomatics
- Transition to Groundwater Sustainability: EU Project with partners from across 6 continents. Project anchored by UNESCO-IHE, Netherlands – ongoing.
- Delivered two invited lectures on ‘Groundwater Management and Governance in India’, in Paris (French Agency for Biodiversity) and Montpellier (IM2E – French Institute for Water and Environment) in November 2018 on invitation from experts in France.
- SDC-UNDP project on Strengthening State Strategies for Climate Action in India – ACWADAM’s role was to develop capacity and conduct dialogue on participatory groundwater management, spring-water revival and provide oversight on the development of Water Policies in certain states – Helvetas was the co-ordinating agency – 2017 to 2019.
- Reviving springs and providing access to solar powered irrigation pumps (SPIP) through community based water use planning: Multiple approaches to solving agricultural water problems in mid hills and Terai in Nepal and India – collaboration with ICIMOD, Nepal. Programme support was through CGIAR’s WLE Programme.
- Collaborative Applied Research and Partnership in Kailash Sacred Landscape (India and Nepal) Understanding Springs using Springshed Hydrogeology Approach – collaboration with ICIMOD, Nepal – lead researcher on the programme for ACWADAM.
- Improving livelihoods with innovative cropping systems on the East India Plateau 2012 – 2016. Supported by ACIAR and led by University of Western Sydney in partnership with Pradan. ACWADAM led the theme on groundwater management. •
- AGRAR 2006. Managed Aquifer Recharge: an assessement of its role and effectiveness in watershed management. ACWADAM was one of the patners (HK was the co-ordinator and lead researcher from ACWADAM) – 2003-2006. Lead agency was British Geological Survey under DFID support.
- COMMAN 2005. Community Management of Groundwater Resources in Rural India – International collaboration between various International Agencies and Indian Partners – ACWADAM was one of the patners (HK was the co-ordinator and lead researcher from ACWADAM) – 2002-2005. Lead was British Geological Survey under DFID support.
- Research collaboration between Department of Geology, SPPU, Pune and British Geological Survey – ‘Sustainable Groundwater Development of hard-rock aquifers: the possible conflict between irrigation and drinking water supplies from the Deccan Basalts of India’ – lead researcher on India side – under the ODA programme – 1991-1995. The project was co-ordinated through British Council.
- Presented research findings in more than 10 national and international symposia on groundwater, including conferences and symposia in USA, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Bhutan, Nepal and Vietnam