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

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Implications of Alternative Institutional Arrangements in Groundwater Sharing

Informal groundwater based pump irrigation services markets are an all-pervasive agrarian institution in south Asia but have been criticised for bringing about less than equitable outcomes and causing groundwater over-exploitation. In view of these drawbacks of private water markets, many scholars have advocated "alternative institutional arrangements" in water sharing. The alternatives refer to those water sharing arrangements that violate either of the three basic conditions of private water market transactions, viz, private, individual ownership of irrigation assets and rights of the owners of means of irrigation to decide the terms and conditions of water sale. In this paper two alternative institutional arrangements in water sharing from West Bengal have been compared from the perspective of the impact they have on the water buyers - in most cases small and marginal farmers.

I nformal groundwater market or pump rental market1 is an all-pervasive agrarian institution in south Asia. It is an arrangement through which the owner of a pump sells water to others for a consideration, generally a pecuniary one. Water markets are of two types, one formal, where water rights (customary or otherwise) are clearly defined, e g, in Chile [Bauer 1997] and another informal where water rights are not separately defined. Groundwater markets in south Asia are a classic example of informal water market since groundwater rights are inalienable from land rights.

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