People’s Participation in Irrigation Management

Jaya Chatterji

The past decade has witnessed a considerable amount of interest and action in the irrigation sector around the country. There have been widespread discussions, field level demonstrations have been undertaken, an institution has been set up specifically to further the cause and legislative action has been undertaken in a number of States.

There is all round agreement that efficiency, equity and sustainability will be best served if the irrigation system is managed by the users. A number of States have also passed Acts that promote management of irrigation systems by the water users.

The issue at present is the strategy to operationalise the Acts. How is management to be transferred? What will be the role of different agencies? Is there a common understanding of the changed roles and more importantly, do the different bodies have the requisite capacities to undertake these roles effectively?

Much of these strategies are based on what has been demonstrated or planned for in projects supported by India Canada Environment Facility. These projects are in Tamil Nadu and in Madhya Pradesh and this paper will therefore rely of the experiences from these two projects.

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