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Water Pricing and Participatory Irrigation Management under Integrated Watershed Development Project in Jammu and Kashmir, India: Experiences and Lessons Learnt

IWRA World Water Congress 2017 - Cancun Mexico
4. Water policy and governance
Author(s): Ishita Singh
Ishita Singh

Keyword(s): Stakeholders, Water Pricing, beneficiaries, Land fallow, Water wastage

India’s water crisis is caused by the mismanagement of water resources, and the solution does not lie merely in supply-side augmentations. The exclusively supply-side solutions tend to either impinge on demands by others, or cause serious damage to nature. The demand-side management is, therefore, slowly becoming a new paradigm for water governance. Most state governments in India encourage the formation of water user associations (WUAs) and eventually want to transfer irrigation management to irrigators. Integrated Watershed Development Project (IWDP), Hills-II, Jammu and Kashmir, India decision on participatory irrigation management (PIM) is a step in this direction. The initiatives of IWDP, Hills-II should be seen as the first steps towards operationalizing water pricing and attaining sustainable irrigation water resource management. With this backdrop, an attempt has been made to review the relevant literature on water pricing and PIM, to analyze the process and impact of evolving PIM under IWDP, Hills-II, users’ responses to water pricing and reasons for low cost recovery, and to suggest policy recommendations to recover project costs and collect water charges from users.  
The present study has been confined to 90 members of the six WUAs, three each from selected sub-watersheds, and 376 households and 404 households respectively from twelve villages (six each from ‘project’ and ‘non-project’ area) of two sub-watersheds of Ramnagar (Udhampur district) and Akhnoor (Jammu district) of Jammu and Kashmir in India using stratified sampling technique to select villages . The content analysis technique has been used to analyze the data and information qualitatively and quantitatively (using descriptive statistics). The study reveals that with operationalizing the gravity based irrigation channels and renovating existing water harvesting structures, the water regimes and conditions of farms have improved and crop production has increased in Shivaliks. 
At present, there is little or no attention given to ownership of locally produced surface run-off. With increase in water pricing, 22% of the user demands less water and leaves land fallow, 18% applies less water to the crop accepting some yield loss, 36% switches to less water demanding crops and 43% invests in more efficient irrigation techniques. If water charges will rise further, water intensive crops are no longer optimal and farmers switch to other crops and invest in more efficient water application techniques. Water charges have to be equitable, administratively simple, and easily understood by users and collecting agency.  There is need to involve all relevant stakeholders in identifying the full range of services and benefits produced and allocating costs among all beneficiaries. Information on the costs of services and benefits from the project and how costs are allocated among beneficiaries should be provided to all users. Besides, users’ ability and willingness to pay should also be assessed.
Keywords:  Stakeholders, Water Pricing, beneficiaries, Land fallow, Water wastage
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