IDEOLOGICAL BASIS OF IRRIGATION SYSTEM TURNOVER
The concept of system turnover to water users is grounded in laudable ideologies like Democratisiation, Decentralisation. It is now widely recognised that the farmers who are the end users of irrigation water should participate in its management starting from planning, design, and construction to operation and maintenance of the system. Farmers have sufficient and accurate knowledge on their local resources like land and water. Existing social capital which includes local knowledge, skill, community network and kinship ties should be utilised in the management of irrigation systems. As the irrigation service is meant for the farmers and farm production, their views should be given due importance in the management of irrigation. The water users should have their say in the decision making process. It is difficult on the part of irrigation agency to look into the individual problems of numerous farmers and supply irrigation service catering to their specific needs. Therefore, it is proposed to delegate some work responsibility to Water Users' Association and management of the downstream part of the system should be turned over to water users. This attempt to decentralise irrigation management and empowerment of water users will undoubtdly bring about improvement in irrigation service by substantially reducing transaction costs of getting accurate information, negotiation and enforcement of contract cost (Baland and Platteau, 1996). The irrigation executives can devote their time for effective management of main canal system and other technical matters in which they have competence and comparative advantage.
In the era of liberalisation, delicensing and decontrol there is a growing realisation that the unnecessary bureaucratic control in management of irrigation system at tertiary levels should be reduced to improve irrigation efficiency and to check corruption and rent seeking behaviour. Usually the farmers believe that the canals belong to the government and they are the beneficiaries of the system. They do not have any role and responsibility in upkeep of the physical structures. In the changed institutional context irrigation will be considered as a common pool resource and will be managed by the farmers community (Sengupta, 1991; Singh, 1994) and its maintenance and sustainability will be the responsibility of the WUAs. The WUAs will be required to raise funds for the purpose. As public canals will be managed by WUAs, it is sometimes termed as privatisation as in Egypt. The WUA can raise funds by selling water, taking up commercial activities and from membership fees, share capital and subsidy.