Analyzing feasibility of pricing in sustainable irrigation water governance reform in Punjab, India
Abstract: India faces water management challenges. The agriculture sector is the largest user and polluter of water but the water resource management has had a duality of good design and poor implementation. The agricultural water management is in a conflict between institutional and political priorities in ensuring security for food and rural livelihood. In Punjab, a concern is growing about sustainability among farming community over income and production of rice and of freshwater for needs of farmers and increasingly for non-agricultural sectors. The political pressure for efficiency of water use and for conservation and allocation is growing but necessitates a critical analysis as to whether this constitutes the most effective and only prescription to overcome the challenge Punjab faces. There is an ambiguity in the concept of economic efficiency especially of defining cost and value of water and conditions surrounding production and livelihood of individual farmer in the state complicate rather than simplify the question of appropriateness and validity of application of optimal water and/or electricity pricing in Punjab. Various findings and discussions show how this may be the case and indicate very broad issues such as international trade that requires coordination among wide ranging departments and stakeholders to identify suitable mix of options available for Punjab.
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