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

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How Participatory Is Participatory Irrigation Management?

Often lack of political will is identified as the main reason for the tardy progress in irrigation reforms at the state level. Andhra Pradesh, however, has demonstrated the political will by initiating widespread irrigation reforms through legislation. This paper, based on the situation six years after Water Users' Associations came into existence, makes an attempt to provide a comprehensive view on the status and functioning of these associations in the state. It is argued that though substantial amounts of money were spent on the reform process, money was used mainly for improving the ailing irrigation systems rather than strengthening formal institutional structures. Despite the fact that WUAs are promoted as non-political institutions, "elite capture" and political involvement dominate their functioning. More importantly, devolution of powers to WUAs has still not taken place, as most of the important functions like assessment, collection of water charges, sanctioning of works, etc, remain in the hands of the irrigation department.

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