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

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Accelerated Programmes: What Can the Water Sector Learn from the Power Sector?

The Government of India's 15-year old Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme has come under much-deserved criticism for all-round non-performance. The AIBP needs to be taken back to the drawing board and redesigned, based on the Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme, which encourages and supports states to undertake management reform, promote accountability, restructure incentives and improve all-round performance of power utilities. This will accelerate irrigation benefits more than simply funding more dams and canals as the AIBP has done all along.

T he Accelerated Irrigation Benets Programme (AIBP), Government of Indias (GoI) agship programme to support states in public irrigation projects, has long been in need of reform. AIBP was designed as a programme to support last mile projects (Chidambaram 2004), that is, projects which are nearly completed but whose full benets can start owing only after small, incremental investments are made. Yet, the AIBP has been used mostly for funding new projects, such as Gujarats Sardar Sarovar Project which has many miles to go before its irrigation benets begin owing. This year, the Jharkhand chief minister walked away with a multithousand crore AIBP bonanza from the Planning Commission for a brand new irrigation project on the Subarnarekha (Ojha 2011).

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