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

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Solar Irrigation Cooperatives

This article challenges the analysis and arguments presented in Tushaar Shah et al (2017). It shows on the basis of empirical data that solar photovoltaic systems for well irrigation are economically unviable, and offering high capital subsidies for such systems and then guaranteeing a higher feed-in-tariff for the electricity produced than the market price would ruin the state electricity utilities and distort energy markets, while incentivising farmers to pump excess groundwater to raise water-inefficient crops and sell the excess water for a profit.

New ‘Water Management Paradigm’

This article critiques theMihir Shah Committee report and the articles about it in this journal (24 December 2016). It says that although the report has intended to be an attempt at restructuring of water institutions, it has, unfortunately ended just as an exercise in restructuring “water organisations,” and its contents get reduced to a mere “preface” rather than a serious analytical attempt towards a practical approach to institutional restructuring in the water sector.

Economics of Dairy Farming in India

Pointing out the analytical and conceptual flaws in the paper, “Do Producers Gain from Selling Milk? An Economic Assessment of Dairy Farming in Contemporary India” (EPW, 24 June 2017), this article explores the economics of milk production in India. It highlights, in particular, the need for any analysis of the dairy sector in India to take into consideration the interactions between crop and livestock production systems.

Rejuvenating Tanksin Telangana

"Mission Kakatiya" is an ambitious project launched by the Government of Telangana to rejuvenate 47,000 tanks in the state by 2020. This article argues that it would be the repetition of the old historical mistake to approach the issue without taking into consideration the hydrological and ecological aspects. Picking up only those tanks which have water generated in their catchments would save a lot of precious money.

Irrigation Sector 'Turnaround' in Madhya Pradesh?

A critique of Tushaan Shah, G Mishra, P Kela, P Chinnasamy's "Har Khet Ko Pani? Madhya Pradesh's Irrigation Reform as a Model," (Economic & Political Weekly, 6 February 2016).

Employment Guarantee and Its Environmental Impact: Are the Claims Valid?

This note questions some of the assumptions, fundamental concepts and methodologies in "MGNREGA for Environmental Service Enhancement and Vulnerability Reduction: Rapid Appraisal in Chitradurga District, Karnataka" (EPW, 14 May 2011), arguing that the analysis in the paper does not support the authors' claims of multiple benefits from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

Groundwater Irrigation versus Surface Irrigation

This response to "Will the Impact of the 2009 Drought Be Different from 2002?" (EPW, 12 September 2009) says that many of the arguments in the article proposing groundwater as India's prime adaptive mechanism in times of drought are fl awed and lack scientifi c support and that surface irrigation systems make a remarkable contribution to drought proofi ng in India. As such, balanced development of surface water and groundwater is an urgent need.

Impact of Water Harvesting and Recharge: A Rejoinder

This note argues that the critique "Water Harvesting and Recharge: A Misinterpretation" (29 November 2008) of "Chasing the Mirage: Water Harvesting and Artificial Recharge in Naturally Water-scarce Regions" (30 August 2008) is erroneous in its reading of the latter's arguments on the impact of water harvesting and recharge.

Chasing a Mirage: Water Harvesting and Artificial Recharge in Naturally Water-Scarce Regions

The analysis presented in this paper shows that in water-scarce regions of India, run-off harvesting does not offer any potential for groundwater recharge or improving water supplies at the basin scale. The issues are many: (1) Water harvesting in the "closed" basins have downstream negative hydrological impacts. (2) Due to high inter-annual variability in rainfall and therefore run-off, during drought years the water harvesting structures have become highly unreliable, whereas an attempt to capture run-off during wet years would remarkably increase the unit cost of harvesting water. (3) In closed basins, intensive water harvesting would lead to negative welfare outcomes due to high negative externalities at higher degrees of basin development. (4) Even at the local level, physical efficiency of water harvesting is likely to be poor, mainly due to groundwater-surface water interactions and the poor storage capacity of hard rock aquifers underlying most of the water-scarce regions. The artificial recharge systems in natural water-scarce areas in India are economically unviable. Also, the much talked about virtues such as promoting equity in access to water, social justice, water security for the poor, and realisation of greater economic value from the use of water, can be hardly achieved through water harvesting programmes in water-scarce regions, as practised today.

Value of Groundwater

A study carried out in four villages in Banaskantha district of Gujarat estimated that 60 per cent of the net farm output generated through groundwater use in agriculture came from dairying. Tubewell irrigation supports three-quarters of the farming household income in these villages and, strangely, this share is larger for water buyers and farm labourers than for tubewell owners. This is despite the fact that tubewell irrigation costs have soared rapidly with depleting water tables. Despite the high costs and depleting water tables, irrigated areas have increased steadily, making livelihoods even more precariously dependent upon sustainable groundwater management.

Narmada Water for Groundwater Recharge in North Gujarat

North Gujarat is naturally endowed with one of the richest alluvial aquifers of India but its uncontrolled exploitation for irrigation has resulted in many undesirable consequences. A major hydrological opportunity for rejuvenation of the aquifer system is provided by the availability of unutilised flows from Narmada basin. It is proposed to divert this water to north Gujarat through the Narmada main canal, and use the existing canal networks and village ponds and tanks in the region to activate a decentralised recharge process. This paper examines its physical and economic feasibility. An evaluation of two recharge scenarios in north Gujarat shows that using pumped water for recharging outside the designated command area may prove to be an uneconomical proposition, unless there is substantial increase in the productivity of water. Recharge within the command would be much more economical.
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