ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Tushaar ShahSubscribe to Tushaar Shah

Solar Irrigation Pumps

Price of solar panels has declined rapidly. Encouraged by increasing affordability of the technology and its promise to curb the demand for subsidised electricity, state governments in India are aggressively promoting solar irrigation pumps. Rajasthan became the pioneer by announcing a scheme in 2011 with 86% subsidy to horticulture farmers who used drip irrigation and farm ponds. Based on extensive fieldwork and survey in three districts of Rajasthan, this paper looks at the farmers' experiences, the design and implementation of the policy, and makes recommendations for a faster and more equitable diffusion of the technology, which could attack India's invidious nexus between energy and groundwater irrigation, and change it for the better.

Major Insights from India's Minor Irrigation Censuses: 1986-87 to 2006-07

Based on data from the four minor irrigation censuses conducted by the Ministry of Water Resources between 1986-87 and 2006-07, this paper points out that India's groundwater sector has slowed down since 2000-01, most markedly in eastern India. It examines the reasons for this and also looks into how farmers have been responding to lowered groundwater tables. Besides identifying some factors that have not changed since the mid-1980s, it emphasises that there are wide regional variations in the country's groundwater economy and management strategies need to be crafted accordingly.

Ancient Small-Tank Irrigation in Sri Lanka

This paper shows that winds of change are blowing in the dry zones of north-central Sri Lanka, the original hydraulic civilisation of the world. The social organisation of tank irrigation - which for centuries had combined a stylised land-use pattern, a system of highly differentiated property rights, and elaborate rules of community management of tank irrigation - has now been morphing in response to demographic pressures, market signals, technical change and modernisation. What are the lessons for south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa?

Remembering Verghese Kurien

Verghese Kurien, who passed away recently, will be best known for building Amul into one of India's most valuable brands which is an organisation of nearly three million smallholder dairy producers and a Rs 12,000 crore farmer-owned business. He will also be remembered for creating the National Dairy Development Board which replicated Amul's complex institutional modelacross India.

Kick-starting a Second Green Revolution in Bengal

Two decisions taken by the Government of West Bengal, one, to facilitate easier extraction of groundwater, and the other, the application of a fi xed connection fee for an electricity connection to farmers could well lead to a quantum leap in agricultural production.

Accelerated Programmes: What Can the Water Sector Learn from the Power Sector?

The Government of India's 15-year old Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme has come under much-deserved criticism for all-round non-performance. The AIBP needs to be taken back to the drawing board and redesigned, based on the Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme, which encourages and supports states to undertake management reform, promote accountability, restructure incentives and improve all-round performance of power utilities. This will accelerate irrigation benefits more than simply funding more dams and canals as the AIBP has done all along.

Secret of Gujarat's Agrarian Miracle after 2000

Semi-arid Gujarat has clocked high and steady growth at 9.6% per year in agricultural state domestic product since 1999-2000. What has driven this growth? The Gujarat government has aggressively pursued an innovative agriculture development programme by liberalising markets, inviting private capital, reinventing agricultural extension, improving roads and other infrastructure. Canal-irrigated South and Central Gujarat should have led Gujarat's agricultural rally. Instead it is dry Saurashtra and Kachchh, and North Gujarat that have been at the forefront. These could not have performed so well but for the improved availability of groundwater for irrigation. Arguably, mass-based water harvesting and farm power reforms have helped energise Gujarat's agriculture.

Will the Impact of the 2009 Drought Be Different from 2002?

Groundwater, which has emerged as India's prime adaptive mechanism in times of drought, will play a crucial role this year since the aquifers were recharged in 2006-08. The impact of the drought of 2009 will therefore be less severe than the drought of 2002. Beyond the immediate response, we need to think long term. Instead of pumping money into dams and canals, Indian agriculture will be better off investing in "groundwater banking". This involves storing surplus flood waters in aquifers which can be drawn upon in times of need.

India's Master Plan for Groundwater Recharge: An Assessment and Some Suggestions for Revision

The government's Groundwater Recharge Master Plan reflects belated recognition of the growing criticality of groundwater for the Indian economy. The plan aims to raise post-monsoon groundwater levels to three metres below ground level through annual "managed artificial recharge" of 36.4 km3 by constructing some four million spreading-type recharge structures at a cost of Rs 25,000 crore. While this is a step in the right direction, the revised master plan under preparation needs to incorporate socio-economic, institutional and administrative parameters that underpin the implementation of any major change intervention. This paper provides an assessment of the existing plan and offers suggestions for revision.

Groundwater Management and Ownership: Rejoinder

Although a lot more needs to be done to evolve a better strategy for managing the groundwater economy, a copybook transposition of the Californian and Spanish formula as argued in these columns 'Groundwater Management and Ownership' (February 16) seems naïve, even disingenuous. A groundwater governance regime for a country like India cannot be dealt with only from the earth science perspective but involves a broader grasp of the organisation of the groundwater economy and its underlying socio-economic dynamics.

Co-Management of Electricity and Groundwater: An Assessment of Gujarat's Jyotirgram Scheme

In September 2003, the government of Gujarat introduced the Jyotirgram Yojana to improve rural power supply. Two major changes have since taken place: (a) villages get 24 hour three-phase power supply for domestic use, in schools, hospitals, village industries, all subject to metered tariff; and (b) tubewell owners get eight hours/day of power but of full voltage and on a pre-announced schedule. It has, however, offered a mixed bag to medium and large farmers and hit marginal farmers and the landless. This article offers an assessment of the impact of Jyotirgram, and argues that with some refinements it presents a model that other states can follow with profit.

Crop Per Drop of Diesel?

India's smallholder irrigation is in the grip of an energy squeeze and is proving the proverbial last straw on the camel's back. Marginal farmers and sharecroppers are particularly badly hit. Typically, they depend on pump owners for renting pumps, and even as prices have stayed put, the rental rates have risen in tandem with every diesel price hike because of the monopoly power of pump owners in these localised, village-level, informal oligopolies. Pump rentals have also tended to be downwardly sticky - they rise when diesel prices jump but stay put when fuel prices fall. This paper synthesises the results of 15 village studies to understand the impact of the energy squeeze and explores the desperate responses smallholders are forging to cope with or absorb the energy shock, and somehow stay in irrigated agriculture.


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