Inderscience Publishers

The implementation of participatory irrigation management in Andhra Pradesh, India

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This paper discusses the implementation of irrigation reform policy in the State of Andhra Pradesh, India. It reports on the impact of the introduction of participatory irrigation management (PIM) in two secondary canals (distributaries) in the Tungabhadra Right Bank Low Level Canal irrigation system. The empirical findings are that the rural elite has captured most of the seats in the water users associations' managing committees; that committee membership is strongly linked to party politics; that a significant amount of physical rehabilitation works have been undertaken resulting in a technically improved canal system; that the reform has had no significant impact on water distribution so far and has not led to increase in irrigated area (unlike in some other parts of the State); and that the relationship between the Irrigation Department and water users is 'in flux' but is yet to qualitatively change. In conceptual terms, the paper investigates whether the Andhra Pradesh irrigation reform process is an example of a 'machine' or a 'transactional' model of policy implementation. It finds that the Andhra Pradesh case does not follow a full-blown 'machine model', but also doesn?t incorporate fully the implications of a 'transactional model'. The main weakness of the reform exercise seems to be that so far no articulated demand for the reform has emerged on the 'clients' side, that would allow two of the major hurdles in further implementation to be addressed overcoming resistance within the Irrigation Department, and overcoming capture of reform by local elites. It is suggested that this lack of 'demand' for policy reform is a feature not exclusive to Andhra Pradesh.

Keywords: irrigation management, policy implementation, politics of irrigation reform, PIM

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