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Wageningen University (2012)

Participatory Irrigation management (PIM) : "a problematic implementation" in Indi Branch Canal (IBC) in Upper Krishna Project in Karnataka

Biradar, B.

Titre : Participatory Irrigation management (PIM) : "a problematic implementation" in Indi Branch Canal (IBC) in Upper Krishna Project in Karnataka

Auteur : Biradar, B.

Université de soutenance : Wageningen University

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2012

Since 2003 Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) Policy is in operation in Karnataka, after decadal of acceptance PIM reflected much difficulty in translating policy into practice. This study attempted to deconstruct the intervention process of PIM implementation in Indi Branch Canal (IBC) Command Area of Upper Krishna Project (UKP). It uses actor prospective, theory of collective action, institutional bricolage and agency structure concepts to reveal the how participation was [re]interpreted and understood by the different actors involved in it. Review of conceptual notion of participation was carried out to align [or contrasts] finding of study. Participation was perceived as bottom up approach, reversal of power and learning by doing as opposite to conventional top down nature of development. The findings shows that process of PIM implementation in IBC lead into another bureaucratic exercise where participation was [re]interpreted in terms of fulfilling the administrative guidelines to form and register the Water Users’ Cooperative Societies (WUCS) under Karnataka Co-operative Societies Act, 1959. In currently operational PIM in IBC ‘participation’ is decided top-down, and farmers are merely provided of their responsibilities and the rules that determine their participation. Theoretically, PIM assumes a shared vision, commitment to, and equal capacity among agencies as well as individuals [in these organizations] involved in implementing PIM projects : but at administrative level participation was measured by the quantity of WUCS formed rather than functional quality. In most of the cases Irrigation Agency is implementing PIM just to fulfill the binding/agreements. There is no indication, of any training, capacity building among actors tasked with implementing ‘participatory management’. WUCS has to be formed on the basis of democracy and peoples’ participation but in most of the cases is not happened. PIM assumes a latent homogeneity within irrigation communities. This instrumental notion of being able to order people into collective institutions is not informed by the dynamics of differences that exist among farmers. People came forward with intension to take opportunities of the financial support that Government was assisting for initial establishment and rehabilitation. In this way, PIM ignores, or rather enables, the vested interests of certain individuals in capturing and controlling the irrigation infrastructure and it’s functioning. Finally, design of PIM in two case study areas rarely considered the wider structural constraints in which PIM interventions took place. Currently operational warabandi system in IBC is unrealistic and to cop up this, certain farmers took technology into their own hand by fixing lift pumps and opening new outlets. These societal innovations are seen as ‘illegal’ or ‘unauthorised’. Similarly, little note is taken of the misfit of hydraulic and administrative boundaries as well as the possibility and existence of conjunctive water management. This study adds to some of the conceptual flaws in PIM policy as identified by IWMI (2009) report. In reality big irrigation projects like UKP are diverse and complex – varying in topography, cross-cut by administrative boundaries and social, political and economic fractures. For PIM policy to work, it requires enormous levels of cooperation and coordination in the management of the resource [water] ; the technology (network of canals) ; and user behavior (adhering to rules of cooperation). If the notion of participation in PIM was not superficial, and would have allowed for genuine – bottom-up, participant-led restructuring – then there was a possibility that some structural barriers to cooperation and coordination might have been realized. But, this is not now how participation is written into PIM policy [at least in IBC], and especially how it is understood by a diverse mix of heterogeneous actors engaged in ‘operationalizing’ [authorities] and ‘undertaking’ [water users] PIM. A top-down imposition of a PIM approach that is weighed down with a rhetoric around participation – results unsurprisingly in a reinstating of a similar bureaucracy around why and how WUAs are formed, as well as unsustainable, and inequitable management of water among water users. These realities are mirrored in the way PIM is understood, applied and implemented in the IBC

Mots clés : irrigation / participative management / water management / india


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