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Dinesh Kumar M.,Institute for Resource Analysis and Policy | Bassi N.,Institute for Resource Analysis and Policy | Sivamohan M.V.K.,Institute for Resource Analysis and Policy | Venkatachalam L.,Madras Institute of Development Studies
Water and Energy International | Year: 2015

The fact that irrigation has acted as a key driver of agricultural growth and poverty reduction in many regions in India has motivated many researchers to aggressively lobby for subsidized power connections for wells and free or subsidized electricity in the farm sector as a ‘silver bullet’ for breaking the agricultural stagnation and reducing rural poverty in eastern India, under the pretext that it would help poor small and marginal farmers in this water abundant region to access well irrigation at affordable costs. The recent policy decision of the government of West Bengal to offer heavily subsidized power connections for well irrigation, and to remove the restrictions on issuing permits for drilling new energized wells is probably the outcome of one such lobbying. But, this decision has not taken cognizance of the situation vis-a-vis arable land and agro-ecology and other socio-economic realities of the State. While these policies would do no good to WB’s agriculture, it would surely and certainly do long term harm to the State’s water and energy economy. Some of the recent writings eulogizing the above policy are built on faulty assumptions. The new policy instead is retrograde in nature, as compared to the landmark decision of the Left Front government in the state to introduce metering of agricultural power users and charge for electricity on the basis of actual consumption and cost of supply. It would only lead to a windfall gain for the existing diesel pump owners, as they would be able to produce water cheap and sell it to poor farmers at prohibitive prices. We argue that a policy which is based on a strategy for intensifying the use of land and water will not work in eastern India. Instead, a new policy for agricultural growth, which is driven by the strategy of enhancing the productivity of land and water and which is built on the concept of multiple use systems, is needed. © 2015, Central Board of Irrigation and Power. All rights reserved.


News Article | October 5, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

As the world gets hotter, we've been warned that the next wars will be over water. In India, that future is here, and the latest proof is a battle between two neighboring states fighting over the river that runs through them. In the latest chapter of a century-old water war in southern India, riots rocked Bangalore, the techie capital city of Karnataka state, in September. Buses were set ablaze, and a man was killed by police trying to control the crowds. Protestors opposed a Supreme Court order for the state to release about 120,000 cusecs, or cubic feet per second of water, from the Cauvery river to Tamil Nadu, the state downstream, over 10 days. The Cauvery river (also called the Kaveri) dispute reached the highest court after Karnataka defaulted on a long-standing agreement to share 17 thousand million cubic feet of water with Tamil Nadu every month, saying it didn't have enough water for itself, let alone to give away. This argument is moot, said S. Janakarajan, professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, and president of the South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies. "No river is surplus all year," Janakarajan told Motherboard. "The monsoon has ups and downs, if it fails, there is a deficit. The Cauvery is always deficit, need is always more than supply." Plus, after three very dry years, there is technically no drought—according to the Indian Meteorological Department, India has had 'normal' rainfall. But it's important to consider that normal can mean any number within 19 percent of a historical average; 19 percent less rain than average is okay. And because it is based on an average, the picture remains skewed. It doesn't take into account where the rain fell and whether it was too late to make a difference. Think about it for a minute. If torrential rain falls on the last day of August in one region after a few dispirited drizzles all month, the average inches up. A few reservoirs start to fill, but the farms and plantations that needed water in the scorching days before the rain have died. The rain bounces off the parched ground taking along the topsoil, straight back into the rivers and oceans. The farmer has rain, but it isn't beneficial. According to the Central Water Commission, 93 percent of Tamil Nadu's districts have an agricultural drought, as does 90 percent of Karnataka. The earliest treaties governing Cauvery water distribution date back to 1892. In 1990, a tribunal was convened to adjudicate who got how much water. Then in the summer of 1991, the water dried up and riots got so out of hand that 18 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of people of Tamil origin who lived and worked in Karnataka had to flee. This September, too, saw similar violence amid the riots, cars with Tamil Nadu license plates were burned, and Tamil-owned shops were destroyed. And so was infrastructure—the city ground to a halt under strict curfew. According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India, the state of Karnataka incurred losses of INR 25 thousand crore (USD 3.7 billion) because of Cauvery protests. This, according to Janakarajan "is an attitudinal problem." Karnataka could have easily avoided this situation, he said, with dialogue not defiance. Instead its officials have fanned the flame. "The river originates in Karnataka so they say they have first right to use. They say they are 'giving' water when there is surplus. This doesn't work because the Cauvery is nobody's private property. They are sharing the water." As of earlier this week, Karnataka followed a second legal directive to release water. The Supreme Court has given the tribunal's supervisory committee two weeks to inspect reservoirs in both states and submit a report. As the country prepares for the retreating monsoon winds to shower southern India with more rain, the situation could still be salvaged. But citizens in Karnataka are upset about releasing water to Tamil Nadu. "Supreme Court order is against Karnataka. It's [a] ruling in favour of [the] rich by ignoring facts," said Srinivas Narasegowda from Mysore city. Hemant B. from Kengeri, outside Bangalore, said, "According to the water disputes act, the first priority [is given to] drinking water, but Tamil Nadu asked for agricultural purposes. We people [have a] scarcity of drinking water then how [can we] release water for agricultural purposes?" Across the border, people say this factually incorrect and their neighbor is hoarding water. "It is each state's own business what it uses it for, be it irrigation or domestic use or drinking," says Saminathan from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. "Not just water, even distress and shortage should be shared. Karnataka can't consume all available water and show its shortage and dump all distress on lower riparian (downstream) Tamil Nadu." In the short term, the situation looks bleak, said S. Vishwanath, director of Biome Environmental Solutions, "But in an efficiency paradigm that manages the integrity of the river, yes, things can change." The key is in better groundwater management as well as getting cities to look at harvesting rainwater and reusing waste water as a resource, he says. On his wishlist: "The creation of a fund to drive efficiency in the [river] basin for more efficient agricultural use, which means switching to drip irrigation, the right crop patterns, the right variety of crops." Read More: What the Next Water War Will Look Like Meanwhile, the Cauvery joins other disputes across the world, like the Volta River in Africa, the Jordan in the Middle East, and the Owen River in California. In all of these cross-border conflicts, loving thy neighbor as thyself would also help. As Japanese conservationist Tanako Shozo said, "The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart."


Bahinipati C.S.,Gujarat Institute of Development Research | Venkatachalam L.,Madras Institute of Development Studies
Regional Environmental Change | Year: 2014

Economic costs imposed by climatic extremes have been increasing over the years and are expected to follow a similar trend in the coming years as well. Such costs are incurred due to two factors: (1) natural climate variability and anthropogenic climate change and (2) exposure and vulnerability of socio-economic factors. The impact of these factors as identified separately through a ‘normalisation technique’ is analysed in the existing normalisation studies conducted mostly in developed country contexts; these have produced mixed results. However, one needs to enquire about the influence of the above two factors in a developing country context where the anticipated impacts of climate extremes are significant. This study, therefore, makes an attempt to adjust impact data, in terms of the reported population affected and economic damages of three extreme events, namely cyclones, floods and droughts, together for societal changes between 1972 and 2009 in Odisha in eastern India. Further, the second component is analysed in two ways: (1) assuming that exposed socio-economic factors are equally vulnerable similar to the other normalisation studies, i.e. no adaptation and (2) incorporating adaptation in the existing normalisation methods—which has attracted less attention so far in the literature. The results suggest that: (a) both the natural climate variability and the socio-economic factors influence the increasing damages in the recent decades, and (b) when adaptation is introduced in the normalisation model, economic losses have reduced significantly compared to the estimates using the existing normalisation models. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg


Stephen J.,University of Amsterdam | Stephen J.,Madras Institute of Development Studies | Menon A.,University of Amsterdam | Menon A.,Madras Institute of Development Studies
Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift | Year: 2016

The study objective was to gain a better understanding of the transboundary fishing conflict between Indian trawl fishers and Sri Lankan small-scale fishers in Palk Bay using a relational approach to territoriality. The authors employed different ethnographic methods, including open, structured, and semi-structured interviews, and performed a media analysis in order to understand the everyday practices of Indian trawl fishers within the wider geopolitical context of a 30-year war in neighbouring Sri Lanka. The relational approach moves away from seeing cross-border fishing merely as an act of counter-territorialisation. The results revealed that the cross-border fishing underlying the crisis has largely resulted from a complex network of changing relationships between on the one hand Indian trawl fishers and India, and on the other hand Sri Lankan state agencies and Sri Lankan fishers, resulting in a porous international maritime boundary. The authors conclude that this in turn has resulted in a fluid international maritime boundary line. © 2016 Norwegian Geographical Society.


Against the discussion on the rationale and scope for water demand and supply management in India, this paper provides a brief overview of the status and effectiveness, as well as the technical, institutional and financial requirements of six demand management options (i.e. water pricing, water markets, water rights, energy regulations, water saving technologies, and user and community organizations) and one supply management option (involving the implementation of the National River Linking Project, NRLP). The paper then develops a framework that captures the analytics of water demand management in terms of both the impact pathways of and operational linkages among the options and their underlying institutions. Using this framework, the paper outlines a strategy for water demand management that can exploit well the inherent synergies among the options, and also align them well with the underlying institutional structure and its environment. Similarly, based on an analysis of the NRLP, the paper also indicates the strategy for implementing the NRLP and thereby promoting water supply management within the financial, institutional and political constraints. The paper concludes with the policy implications for water demand and supply management in India. © 2011 IAHS Press.


Venkatachalam L.,Madras Institute of Development Studies
International Journal of Water Resources Development | Year: 2015

The present study analyzes the role of informal markets in fulfilling the water requirements of poorer households in Chennai City, India. The results of a survey reveal that a significant number of poor people purchase water from informal markets and that they incur a sizeable expenditure on water purchases; some of these households are also willing to pay additional amounts for improved water supply from public sources. The results suggest that improvements in public water supply would significantly increase the welfare of the poor. The informal markets need to be regulated and monitored so that they can serve the households in a better way. © 2014, © 2014 Taylor & Francis.


Saleth R.M.,Madras Institute of Development Studies | Amarasinghe U.A.,International Water Management Institute
Water Policy | Year: 2010

Against the backdrop of a discussion on the rationale, logic and scope of irrigation demand management in India, this paper provides a brief overview of the status, effectiveness and technical and institutional requirements of six demand management options, that is, water pricing, water markets, water rights, energy regulations, water saving technologies and user organizations. The paper then develops a framework that captures the analytics of irrigation demand management in terms of both the impact pathways of and the operational linkages between the options and their underlying institutions. Using this framework, the paper also outlines a strategy for irrigation demand management that can exploit the inherent synergies between the options and align them well with the underlying institutional structure and its environment. After discussing how such a strategy can be effectively promoted within the institutional and political constraints facing countries such as India, the paper concludes with the policy implications of irrigation demand management. © IWA Publishing 2010.

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