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

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Is India Ripe for Integrated Water Resources Management?

Water scarcity has emerged, especially during the past decade, as an important theme in discussions on India's future. Global discourse suggests that India, and other developing countries in Asia and Africa, can respond to water scarcity - and the resultant water poverty facing their people - by embracing integrated water resources management, a package of best practices for improved management of water resources with strong emphasis on direct demand-side management. This paper addresses five questions about the IWRM paradigm with respect to India: (1) Is water poverty of countries caused by their water scarcity? (2) Would embracing IWRM help alleviate India's water poverty? (3) Is implementing IWRM feasible in India in today's context? (4) Has implementing IWRM helped counter water scarcity and poverty in other countries with a development context comparable to Indiaâ??s? And, finally, (5) What should be the priorities and roadmap for improving the working of the water sector in India? The paper reviews recent evidence from around the world to analyse these questions and concludes with a discussion of implications for water sector reform discussions in India.

Institutional Vacuum in Sardar Sarovar Project

Few large irrigation projects in India have been as elaborately planned as the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), incorporating as it did the lessons of decades of irrigation project design and management. The project was to blaze a new trail in farmer-participatory irrigation project design and management with water user associations building their own distribution systems. However, as it unfolds, the institutional reality of the project is vastly different from its plans. If SSP is to chart a different course from scores of earlier large irrigation projects, it must invent and put into place new rules of the irrigation management game.

Virtual Water Trade in Dairy Economy

During the past 50 years, Gujarat has led India's exemplary growth in dairy production by forging the world's best known cooperative movement. Thanks to the market access and production enhancement programmes run by cooperatives, dairying has emerged at the centre stage of rural livelihoods systems in arid and semi-arid regions. However, intensification of dairying has been accompanied by intensive use of water used in growing feed and fodder. This study estimates that dairying-based rural livelihoods systems are now threatening the limited water resources of arid and semi-arid areas, and their future in turn is threatened by the depletion of these resources. The paper analyses virtual water exports and imports by some of the leading dairy cooperatives of Gujarat.

Rejuvenating Irrigation Tanks through Local Institutions

Recent attempts to modernise irrigation tanks with a focus on physical rehabilitation, but little institutional development to maintain and manage them, have resulted in a vicious cycle. With the lack of maintenance and upkeep, rehabilitated tanks soon fall into disrepair, necessitating a new round of externally-induced rehabilitation. Yet, there are many tanks under traditional local management operating at a high level of performance equilibrium. A study of 41 tanks from 22 districts of eight Indian states was taken up under the IWMI-Tata Programme to identify the characteristics of high performing local-managed tank institutions. The lessons learnt from the study can form the basis for an effective institutional protocol that can enhance the effectiveness of tank rehabilitation and modernisation.

Irrigation Institutions in a Dynamic Economy

India's water sector is crying for institutional and policy reforms. Its public irrigation systems are performing far below par. As a direct consequence, farmers are turning to groundwater for their irrigation needs. Booming groundwater irrigation has become the mainstay of Indian farming but it has also all but wrecked the country's power economy because of perverse policies of pricing of electricity for agriculture. Yet, there is no firm strategy of dealing with these and other challenges. Other south Asian countries are in much the same boat. Based on two spells of fieldwork in six provinces of north China, this article shows that, facing much the same problems as its south Asian neighbours, China is responding differently to its water problems. This is by no means a suggestion that the approaches China is trying out would work in India - or even in China itself. However, by including China's experience in its discussions, Indian policy-makers will clearly have a wider repertoire of institutional alternatives with which to experiment.

Water and Welfare

The burgeoning groundwater irrigation economy is destined to collapse under its own weight, especially if tubewell numbers continue to grow at the rate they have since 1990. Increasing failure of wells and resultant farmer suicides are an indication of the shape of things to come. ITP has conducted a collaborative inter-disciplinary research programme on such local and national water policy issues and discussion papers that capture its results were presented at a recent three-day meet.

Water Sector Reforms in Mexico

This paper analyses a decade of water sector reforms in Mexico with the specific purpose of drawing useful lessons for Indian water policy. Particularly after 1992, Mexico has implemented serious, comprehensive and far-reaching water sector reforms that required the government to create a new legal framework; restructure existing water administration; promote and support a plurality of new autonomous and quasi-autonomous water institutions; modify incentives in water use to different user groups; and struggle with a vast complex of unresolved operational issues in implementing the reforms. Mexico may not be a model for India but Mexico's experience does suggest that changing the way a nation manages its water resources necessitates far-reaching changes in administration, institutional structure, law and operating rules, incentives and power structures, and above all consistent commitment to the reform process.

Global Groundwater Situation

It is widely predicted that problems of groundwater overexploitation will become more acute and widespread. The challenge then is not merely supply-side innovations but to set in place a range of corrective mechanisms that would involve a shift from resource development towards resource management. Countries with severe groundwater depletion still remain hampered however by lack of information. Not only is there no systematic monitoring of groundwater occurrence and draft, but management of such resources has for long remained in private informal channels, with public agencies playing only an indirect role.

Revitalisation of Irrigation Tanks in Rajasthan

This paper is based on a larger study which was carried out to assess the socio-ecological importance of irrigation tanks, organisational capabilities of the department and local non-governmental organisations on the rehabilitation of irrigation tanks in Rajasthan. The paper provides the background of irrigation tanks, and justification for their pivotal role; and describes the approach that we have evolved to rehabilitate these tanks in Rajasthan.

Water Markets in North Bihar

This paper presents key results and analysis of a field study of the role of pump irrigation markets in the agrarian transformation of six villages of the Muzaffarpur district in north Bihar. Pump irrigation markets have emerged as a robust and dominant irrigation institution serving as virtually the sole powerhouse energising north Bihar*s new-found agrarian dynamism. Three criteria used to assess the performance of water markets were depth, breadth and efficiency. Their impacts were analysed on four variables: cropping intensity, cropping patterns, labour use and crop yields. Water markets in the region have developed a high level of depth and breadth, but they are highly inefficient, generating large monopoly rents for pump owners. These produce powerful negative distributive impact; however, the output impact of monopoly pricing by water sellers is negligible because of the price inelasticity of irrigation demand explained by its high marginal productivity. The overall impact of water markets are highly beneficial; crop yield and cropping intensity achieved by water buyers are far superior to non-irrigatorst and in many cases even in comparison to pump owners; cropping patterns used by water buyers are nearly the same as of pump owners; finally, operation of water markets substantially expands labour use in agriculture. Abysmal power supply environment is a major barrier to fuller development of equitable water markets; equally critical to promoting efficiency and equity in these markets are the prices and supply of diesel for pumping.

Role of Design and Informal Share Markets in Success of Sugar Co-operatives

Success of Sugar Co-operatives R Rajagopalan Tushaar Shah Why have sugar co-operatives done so outstandingly well in south Gujarat and Maharashtra? Central to their success are three important features of their design which enable the interests of thousands of cane growers to coalesce into a powerful member organisation, which operates as an engine of wealth generation for its members and remains member-oriented through a patronage cohesive governance structure. A major institution that supports patronage cohesive governance is the informal and yet dynamic market in the shares of these co-operatives in south Gujarat. The prices these shares command are important to their owners as: (a) a form of wealth, (b) a performance index, and (c) an instrument of member control As a robust if imperfect summary index of management performance on which information is available widely and openly, this market price of the co-operative's share encourages the board and management to continually search for and adopt member-oriented policies.

Agriculture and Rural Development in 1990s and Beyond-Redesigning Relations between State and Institutions of Development

Beyond Redesigning Relations between State and Institutions of Development Tushaar Shah In the India on the threshold of the 21st century, orthodox economic planning is unlikely to prepare the nation to meet the challenge of rapid agricultural and rural employment growth that it has failed to tackle so far. More is wrong with India than just the planning of her resource generation and allocation. What India needs to do most is to focus, above all else, on devising radical and innovative'strategies that can yield and sustain 5-7 per cent annual growth rate in the value of output of the agricultural sector; and recent experience suggests that in nations which have secured anywhere near such high growth rates, the state and its institutions of economic development have done more than just orthodox economic planning. This seemingly unachievable goal can be achieved, but only by redesigning the chemistry between the state and our institutions of economic development


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