Politics, Policy and People: Irrigation Governance in a South Indian State


Bala Raju Nikku
School of Social Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Nepal School of Social Work, Nepal

Series: Agriculture Issues and Policies
BISAC: TEC003050

Major canal system commands require huge investments and human resource to maintain them. Governments are increasingly failing in allocating the huge budgets required for the system maintenances and hence transferring the management to the user groups is an alternative solution to avoid the system decay and increased user participation results in better results in achieving production, efficiency and equity. The emergence of reforms in irrigation in the state of Andhra Pradesh is a step in this direction to address the issues of production, efficiency and equity.

The immediate priority is to restore and improve the productivity and ensure sustainable management of the system by involving farmers through the Water Users Associations. To provide legitimacy to the user associations the State enacted The Andhra Pradesh Farmers Management of Irrigation Systems Act of 1997. The Act envisages changes in resource ownership, rights and usage of canal water. Irrigation department is expected to play a role of facilitator in the water distribution and management. The user organisations are empowered to manage the water distribution and management of the system. The reforms are aimed to bring changes in both control and management of the canal water.

The book, based on a PhD research, presents an in-depth understanding about the reform policy process and implementation in the state of Andhra Pradesh, a south Indian State. The main focus is to study the policy process of reforms (evolution and implementation) in irrigation sector in the State of Andhra Pradesh. The aim of the thesis is to contribute to the understanding of policy processes.

The books central questions would be:

How have the reforms in irrigation sector evolved and implemented?

What the role of stakeholders in shaping the policy?

What are the implications of the reform policy on system rehabilitation, access to canal water and viability of user organisations?

The findings suggest the there has been changes in the irrigated acreage that are significant. But the claims of the state are clearly exaggerated. With the improvements in the irrigation infrastructure and maintenance access to water has been increased to the head reach farmers, the middle experiences some improvements, the tail reaches continues to have problems of irrigation assurance, reliability, quantity and time. The user associations have remained as implementing agencies rather than acting as the autonomous bodies. The quality of works in general improved but the sense of ownership was not cultivated among the users. The involvement of politics is evident. Policymaking in this book is argued as a political process. Different actors and their power interactions have played a crucial role in shaping the policy and implementation. (Imprint: Nova)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Maps

List of Boxes




Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. State Governance to Self Governance: Understanding Policy Processes

Chapter 3. Legislation and Policy: The Emergence of Participatory Irrigation Management

Chapter 4. Madhira Branch Canal: The Social Organisation of an Irrigation System

Chapter 5. Maintenance and Rehabilitation: An Arena of Policy Contestation

Chapter 6. The Myth of Irrigation Expansion: Social Construction of Data

Chapter 7. Joint Azmoish: An Arena of Irrigation Revenue Generation

Chapter 8. Bureaucracy and Irrigation Reform: Public Duties and Social Settings

Chapter 9. Conclusion: Envisioning a Way Forward

Chapter 10. Epilogue: Revisiting Andhra Pradesh Irrigation Reforms




“The Andhra Pradesh irrigation reform programme started in the second half of the 1990s acquired ‘model’ status at the international irrigation water/policy level within two years after it its kick off – it had barely taken off. Its success was declared before there had been an opportunity to seriously research the reform’s process and impact.” READ MORE…Peter P Mollinga, , MSc, PhD (Wageningen NL), PD/Habil (Bonn, Germany), Professor of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London

“This book give both an overview of irrigation governance and also detailed insights in the realities of irrigation management reforms in an Indian state once at the forefront of international support and attention on participatory irrigation management policies.” READ MORE…Linden Vincent, , Emeritus Professor of Irrigation and Water Engineering, Environmental Sciences Group, Wageningen University

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