"Irrigation Infrastructure - A View from below" is a new research study by Chitra Krishnan funded by the "Knowledge in Civil Society" initiative. The study works along these lines: Say we have an irrigation infrastructure on a river. This is an evolving thing, new projects are proposed, existing ones need maintainance and so on. At the same time from year to year the rainfall scenario is changing, leading to different water flows and water users need to anticipate and adapt to each year's situation. If the river flows through more than one state there are inevitably interstate disputes over the usage and management of the water. New industries come up or cropping patterns change creating different demand patterns, governments change, creating different political pushes and so on. Flood control, hydel generation, domestic and industrial needs compete with agriculture needs for the same water. The study seeks to follow these dynamics for the Tungabhadra river over a specific two year period (consecutive drought and good rainfall years), while applying the appropriate historical and technical contexts for understanding what is going on. What emerges is a highly readable account of how irrigation infrastructure works, and the serious problems that beset it in our times. According to Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network of Dams Rivers and People: " This is a good attempt at studying the state of irrigation system maintenance, with field visits, providing the historical and basin wide context, also trying to understanding the political context. There are not too many studies of this kind. With the largest irrigation infrastructure in the world that India has, and the abysmal performance of that system, as even India's Finance Minister commented on and the huge and unfulfilled maintenance budget that the World Bank study pointed out, such studies are very much required are regular intervals, as an attempt to identify the problems and provide pointers towards direction of the solutions." Shripad Dharmadhikary of Manthan: "This report by Chitra Krishnan is a fascinating and engaging account of irrigation and river management in the country. Its great strength is that it offers a unique perspective of looking at irrigation and dams, a perspective that is most crucial, but is mostly missing in irrigation studies. This is the a point of view on the ground, of how the system is really (not?) working within the heat and dust of water politics. Due to this perspective, it offers very useful insights; for example the Box 1 on Tail-end Deprivation that demonstrates how elected representatives can get away even as the situation on the ground is in a mess. Along with insights, the unique perspective also makes the report eminently readable. As the author mentions in the report, the "story of our rivers must be written". Indeed, they should be, and this study shows why the view from below must be central in any such stories. "
Hardcopies of the book can be ordered, please see the website http://www.kicsforum.net
More about the Knowledge in Civil Society initiative at http://www.kicsforum.net
Irrigation Infrastructure Book Errata can be downloaded as a .doc here: Corrections - "Irrigation Infrastructure - A View from Below"