October 24, 2012

2012: Highlight # 19

Can lift irrigators assert formal rights over canal water or are they to be perpetually viewed as ‘informal’, ‘chaotic’ and ‘illegal’? Meghna Brahmachari and Seema Dave explore...

Whose Water Is It Anyway?

Evolving rights over canal water, the case of Guhai irrigation system in Gujarat

Meghna Brahmachari and Seema Dave

For long, the rights over canal water have been determined by topography. Lower areas on one side of a contour canal become natural command areas, while up-lying areas on the other side end up as ‘non-command’. Over time, however, the so called ‘non-command’ farmers have increasingly asserted their rights over canal water using siphons, pumps and pipes. This puts paid to original design parameters and a few years after their commissioning, canal commands get reconfigured. This raises many questions about the design and management of canal irrigation systems. The most important question it raises, however, is ‘whose water is it anyway’?

This Highlight explores this dynamic of rivalry between command and ‘non-command’ irrigators in the context of Guhai irrigation system of North Gujarat. The rise of lift irrigation may violate original design assumptions and infringe on the water rights of command area farmers, but it may lead to higher water productivity and bigger Gross Canal Product. The Highlight also shows Guhai to be an excellent example of conjunctive use of surface and groundwater, but by default more than by design.

No comments:

Post a Comment