ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by B D DhawanSubscribe to B D Dhawan

Great Challenge in Regional Co-operation

Great Challenge in Regional Co-operation B D Dhawan Harnessing the Eastern Himalayan Rivers edited by B G Verghese and Ramaswamy Iyer; Konark, New Delhi. 1993; pp 286, Rs 300.

Irrigation in Eighth Plan A Critique

The final version of the Eighth Five-Year Plan is now available. The proposed programme for the irrigation segment is of as much interest as is the planners' own progress report on the state of affairs in this vital segment of Indian agriculture. This paper takes a close look at the Plan document's contents pertaining to Indian irrigation.

Coping with Floods in Himalayan Rivers

in defence of this is precisely the same that Ghorpade uses in the case of the local governments, that is to say, to prevent misuse and misappropriation by certain individuals at the state-level, When one puts all these together, it is not accidental that the Congress Working Committee should consider the latest Karnataka bill as a model to be recommended to the other states. And it is symbolic that the full dress convention on this 'march towards decentralisation' should be held INDIA is a country of such continental diversity that one can form contrary impressions or opinions about any of its major characteristics. When a periodic drought occurs, a feeling that nature has been too niggardly in the matter of water endowment comes to many of us. As news of flood havoc in years of excessive rainfall pours in, we begin feeling a sense of tyranny of our water bounty. In between these fluctuating moods, we get occasionally haffled by the seemingly paradoxical phenomenon of simultaneous occurrence of drought and flood in the same calendar year, sometimes in the same Mate! It is these extreme oscillations in natural phenomena that give rise to the pertinent question: why cannot the government undertake major water conservation measures, whereby surplus flood waters get effectively stored up, to be used later either in rainless months of the year, or carried over to subsequent years to cope with drought in the main monsoon season? Another related question is: why can't we harness the huge surplus waters of our highly flood-prone eastern Indo- Gangetic plains, presently flowing to the Bay of Bengal, so as to relieve inter alia the great natural water scarcity in the drought-prone tracts of the western and southern parts of the country? Though these two questions have not been squarely answered in the third Citizens' Report on the state of India's environment entitled Floods, Flood Plains and En- vironmental Myths,1 released recently by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi, yet one can conclude that the CSE's answers to these questions are primarily in the negative. For, its cen- at Amethi next month.

On Irrigation Systems

Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions seem to have been progressive in the crucially important fields of basic needs for their populations. Whilst socialism remains elusive some development as opposed to underdevelopment has been achieved!' Written lucidly in relatively self- contained chapters and sub-chapters, the book is convenient for the busiest of students and researchers. Sections of the book including illustrations can be used directly by students for reference purposes without going through the complete volume.

Impact of Irrigation on Multiple Cropping

B D Dhawan Harsharan Singh Datta It is widely perceived that the key to wising intensity of cropping in monsoonal climates is the development of irrigation. In view of this it becomes worthwhile to assess the actual impact of irrigation on intensity of cropping.

Benefit-Cost of Tehri Dam Project-A Review Analysis

Benefit-Cost of Tehri Dam Project A Review Analysis B D Dhawan The time has come to view power as an input with wider ramifications in the economy at large, and thus appraise power projects on the basis of marginal value product of power. In other words, such projects need be appraised within the framework of economic benefit-cost analysis similar to that used in the case of major irrigation projects as may be well-illustrated in the case of the Tehri project.

Developing Groundwater Resources-Merits and Demerits

Developing Groundwater Resources Merits and Demerits B D Dhawan Those who lobby for the cause of well irrigation neither realise the natural paucity of groundwater vis-a-vis surface water resource, nor reckon with the close inter-linkage between these two sources of water. That groundwater irrigation is a low cost option for the Indian economy is a fictitious proposition not well-founded in facts.

Major and Minor Irrigation Works

Major and Minor Irrigation Works THIS author's views on the cost side of the Indian controversy about major versus minor irrigation works, expressed last year in this journal (September 30, 1989), were questioned, first by Satyajit K Singh (SKS) in his major article 'Evaluating Large Dams in India (EPW, March 17, 1990), and later by Ashok K Mitra (AKM) in this column (EPW, April 21, 1990). As AKM had, on my request, sent me an advance copy of his comments, I had briefly responded to the same in my recent book (Big Dams: Claims, Counterclaims) which also carries AKM's comments. However, SKS's comments have remained unresponded

Big Dams Claims, Counterclaims

Big Dams: Claims, Counterclaims B D Dhawan IN this note it is proposed to make some brief response to the comments by Ashok K Mitra (August 5,1989), Chandrashekhar Pant, Shripad DJiarmadhikary (September 2-9, 1989) and Nirmal Sengupta December 2, 1989) on this author's "Mounting Antagonism towards Big Dams'' (May 20, 1989). At the very outset he wishes to record his high appreciation of their attempt to focus attention on an important policy issue by offering their own thinking on the subject, as also their criticism of this author's thinking in this area. It is hoped that the discerning readers of this journal have found the discussion illuminating:

How Reliable Are Groundwater Estimates

Estimates? B D Dhawan OVER the years, I have written in this journal many times about developments in groundwater irrigation in India. Presently, my concern is with the problematics of our irrigation potential from our groundwater reserves, a topic that I had last discussed in considerable detail more than a decade ago [Dhawan 1977]. The reason for 'revisiting1 it now stems from the recent attempts by our groundwater agencies, notably the Central Groundwater Board, to what 1 fear is an overprojection of the irrigation potential of our groundwater resources. The Groundwater Board, which is the apex groundwater body in India, now claims that our groundwater resources can annually irrigate about 80 million ha1 of crop area (not land urea). I am somewhat intrigued by the fact that this number of 80 million ha is the same which B B Vohra, a popular protagonist of groundwater irrigation cause, had begun mentioning a year or so ago. He had, however, ar rived at this number via a novel route. He assumed (by misreading my research work) that land productivity under groundwater- irrigated lands was twice that under surface water-irrigated lands. Therefore, the reported official 'ultimate' irrigation potential from groundwater resources of 40 million ha was multiplied by him by a factor of two. This hazardous 'production' approach for sizing up resources of groundwater totally ignores the linkages between groundwater and sur face water; for, a good deal of groundwater is of canal/tank origin. In Punjab, for example, half the groundwater raised by tubewells is the seeped-in water from the extensive canal irrigation works established at huge cost.

Managing Water

favoured the Punjab by such a policy whereas factually in its implementation there were numerous selfinterests involved. Vast tracts of land were given to loyal agriculturalists who had helped the British in 1857 or were always forthcoming with recruits for the army and police. The pirs, sajjada nishin, and the religious leadeers of Sikh community were made feudal lords overnight and, after some time, the production turned static.Ali, very Iucidly, traces the history of the ruling families of Punjab/ Pakistan under an imperial patronage and their support in the consolidation of the Raj itself by virtue of their emergence as a nighly conservative group. Thus the doling out of the land acted "as the constraint on the emergence of agricultural capitalism" blocking "the process of economic change". The state itself took on a more pronounced and arbitrary role which was evident in all through the subsequent developments in the province. In the name of social stability and order, the state strengthened the religious forces through generous land grants to shrines expecting a complete loyalty and military support from such institutions. The military benefits, among other things, included the maintenance of certain number of horses and camels on the allotted land. The greed for land amongst the proprietors in the name of horse runs became horren- dously insatiable over the years. Though the horse-mounted cavalry was outmoded after the first world war, yet it persisted as an effective means of land allotment. The revenue system, revolving around patwari, was unintelligible for an average agriculturalist and the administrative high-handedness manifested itself frequently in an "intransigent system of assessment". Though initially, Punjab emerged as one of the most prominent areas of commercial farming in Asia, it equally remained an underdeveloped region in socio-political context. The state's policies and objectives contrasted with the development imperatives of the society itself. "The state failed to provide a determined developmental stimulus; the many opportunities for it in the colonics were not utilised. The role of state as an agent of improvement was aborted by the agitation of 1907, after which it became politically expedient for it to withdraw from an intrusive supervision of agrarian affairs.'1 Even agriculture turned static though the political results for the British were 'rewarding'. The state benefited from the revenues which were spent on non-developmental sectors like defence, and official apathy towards agricultural development through mechanisation or by eradication of corruption constantly hindered the growth. To sumup, Pakistan, where all these canal colonies existed, inherited a strong opportunistic feudal class, politically disorganised and segmented masses and a stagnant agricultural economy suffering from serious technical and human problems. India, itself, could not extricate itself from the fall-out of the imperial policies of the Raj in the province where demographic changes compounded the development issues with ethno- communal tensions.

Major and Minor Irrigation Works-Cost Aspects of the Controversy

Cost Aspects of the Controversy INTRODUCTlON BY nature water is a very complex resource As and when its complexities are ignored, or simplified, by the critics of water planning, controversies can easily crop up. In view of the heightened public interest in this vital resource some of these controversies can spill over to public tora like the daily press, weekly magazines and parliament. Given the ample scope for misunderstanding1 of crucial aspects of this resource, non-issues can become issues of great concern and attentioa By and large, the controversial issue of promoting minor or major irrigation works


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