November 10, 2012

2012: Highlight # 36

How are different Indian states managing the electricity-irrigation-agriculture nexus? Mukherji, Shah and Giordano discuss a broad typology of solutions and their effectiveness...

Managing Energy-irrigation Nexus in India

A typology of State interventions

Aditi Mukherji, Tushaar Shah and Mark Giordano

This Highlight examines historical antecedents of energy-irrigation nexus in India and finds that its genesis lies in a policy decision taken over two decades ago to supply unmetered electricity to farmers. This has led to a number of problems, most important of which is the lack of appropriate incentives to all the players including farmers and utility officials to minimize perverse impacts and to ensure efficient use of power and groundwater. This, in turn, has led to a crisis in all three sectors - energy, groundwater and agriculture. In response, different state governments have tried different solutions to reduce negative impacts of this nexus. In this Highlight, we arrive at a broad typology of these solutions and conclude that text-book solutions like universal metering and commercial power tariffs, though very effective and tried in a few states, are unlikely to be politically acceptable everywhere. In the meanwhile, second best solutions like feeder segregation and improving quality of power supply through technical interventions will have to suffice.

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