ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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More than Just Water

Participatory Irrigation Management in Maharashtra

The Participatory Irrigation Management legislation in Maharashtra is a vital component of the World Bank’s next generation reforms in the water sector in India. These reforms are based on the bank’s emphasis on efficiency in resource use and a rollback of the government’s presence in the sector to a more regulatory role. This study applies the Policy Advocacy Coalition Framework to the policy subsystem which has been created by the enactment of the PIM legislation in Maharashtra. The emergent coalitions in the subsystem have been analysed for their belief systems, actors, structure and resources.

This paper is based on the author’s dissertation submitted for the completion of his master’s degree in Public Policy at the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. The author would also like to acknowledge the contributions of the blind referee at the Economic & Political Weekly for their comments on the paper.

In 2005, two legislations were enacted in Maharashtra—the Maharashtra Management of Irrigation Systems by Farmers (MMISF) Act and the Maharashtra Water ­Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) Act. Both these acts had been passed as a direct outcome of the World Bank’s project titled “Maharashtra Water Sector Improvement Programme 2005.” Pradeep Purandare, the chief secretary of the committee formed for drafting the MMISF Act, 2005, claims that there was no real clamour for Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) in Maharashtra before the World Bank introduced it as a mandatory conditionality for receiving financial aid (personal interview 2016). The World Bank’s programme in Maharashtra ­entailed the state having to pass legislations implementing PIM and creating a water regulatory authority in the state in order to, supposedly, receive a loan from the bank. These changes were to reflect the broader shift towards Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the state. As of 2017, ­Maharashtra remained one of the few states in India which was still actively pursuing the agenda of PIM. 
Critics of the World Bank’s strategy have highlighted IWRM’s objective of reducing government presence in the water sector and treating water as an economic good, as a precursor to a future where the idea of equitable access to water for all will be compromised. These criticisms have found resonance on the ground in Maharashtra, owing in part to the state’s history with people’s movements demanding equitable access to ­common resources. 
This paper applies the Policy Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF), as conceived by Paul Sabatier and Hank Jenkins-Smith (1999), to this setting to analyse the two coalitions extant in the subsystem of PIM in Maharashtra in terms of their structure, resources and strategies. Policy actors, who identify with the need to widen the access to water under the PIM framework, have come to form the “equity” coalition in the state. The coalition is marked by its actors’ belief that even landless persons must be given access to water under PIM and that the quality of participation for other excluded groups like women must be improved. This coalition has been juxtaposed against the state administration and the World Bank’s agenda to improve efficiency in resource use in the irrigation sector in the state. These actors comprise of the “efficiency” coalition. This is the dominant coalition as it commands the resources required to dictate policy change. 
The ACF places the policy subsystem as the most useful ­aggregate unit of analysis for understanding policy change, and not any specific governmental institution. Subsystems bring together policy participants who focus on a particular policy issue within a specific territorial area (Jenkins-Smith et al 2014). The policy subsystem is an entirely theoretical ­conception. It is meant to bring together the actors involved in a specific policy domain. These policy actors may include just about any individual who displays sustained interest in the policy issue at hand and holds resources which are likely to shape the policy outcome in some way. The presumption is that policy actors are goal-oriented, and are likely to map their strategies for achieving their goals based on their imperfect cognitive abilities to understand their contexts. These ­strategies are expressed as belief systems in the ACF. 
The structure of belief systems and the repository of ­resources available to the coalitions is crucial to understanding the nature of the ACF. A belief system refers to a set of basic ­beliefs that actors in the coalitions hold. The ACF distinguishes between three distinct levels of beliefs: (i) deep-core, (ii) policy-core, and (iii) secondary beliefs. Deep-core beliefs pertain to personal normative assumptions about human nature that an actor may hold and the priority of fundamental values like ­liberty or ­equity. Policy-core beliefs refer to those beliefs which are specific to a particular policy field or a subsystem. They include the basic strategies and approaches needed to fulfil the conditions for meeting the deep-core beliefs. Secondary beliefs are narrow in scope and refer to particular aspects of the policy area. They may include beliefs concerning the relative importance of the problem or the relative importance of various causal factors (Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith 1999: 121). This paper has made customisations to the typical application of the framework in order to facilitate its application in the Indian context.
The Equity Coalition
The equity coalition espouses equity in the access to water as a policy-core belief. For the equity coalition in the PIM subsystem in Maharashtra, the demand for equity is meant to very specifically address the lack of equity that the PIM model establishes, as far as allowing access to water is concerned. 
The MMISF Act, 2005 ensures that only holders or occupiers of agricultural lands within the command areas of irrigation projects may be instituted as members of a water user association (WUA). Membership to WUAs is a critical component of access to water, as Section 7 of the act declares that all provisioning of water from the canals of the project will be directly to the WUAs and not to individual holders or occupiers of agricultural land. Active actors in the coalition are critical of this restrictive construction of WUAs because it admits only farmers with ­access to land, thereby depriving many landless inhabitants of the command areas of a vital resource like water. They point out that such a limited membership of the WUAs effectively makes them only “irrigation” users associations. 
The policy-core belief espoused by the equity coalition is part of a broader history of people-centric movements that have focused on fighting against the individualisation of the commons. The Pani Panchayat Movement in 1974 put forth the principle that water is a common property resource and must hence, be accessible to all. The operationalisation of this principle ensured that only community irrigation projects were undertaken. More importantly, the Gram Gaurav Pratisthans (part of the panchayat system) decoupled water and land rights, and for the first time, the landless were ensured access to water. This was, however, done by ensuring that a certain amount of land was leased to the landless (ACWADAM 2010). The state also recognised the success of the Pani Panchayat experiment and passed a resolution to replicate the model across Maharashtra by way of a plan called the Naigaon Pattern, named after the first village where the panchayat was established.
By the late 1990s, the dam oustees’ movements in south ­Maharashtra were launched in response to the government’s decision to evict families to facilitate the construction of dams in the Krishna River Valley before 31 May 2000. The south ­Maharashtra dam oustees’ movement distinguished itself from earlier movements by making the equitable distribution of the dammed water a primary component of its demands. Leaders of the movement like Bharat Patankar, asserted that irrigation water was a resource for many and its redistribution was as vital as the redistribution of land (Phadke 2000: 4085). The leaders argued that giving landless families access to water would yield more economically efficient results. On receiving a right to irrigation water, the landless would take land from farmers having larger landholdings and cultivate them on a sharecropping basis. This would institutionalise a tradition of the landless cultivating land, and eventually lead to a more equitable redistribution of land (Phadke 2000). 
These demands of the movement were eventually met by the state government in 2000, when they declared equitable distribution of water as a policy for all new dam ­constructions. The N D Patil Committee appointed by the state government also recommended the equitable distribution of water on a per capita basis (access to water on the basis of the number of people) as a part of its 51-point common minimum programme (Phadke 2000). The south Maharashtra movement was a breakthrough as far as all contemporary people-centric movements in the state are concerned. Subsequently, the Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPP­E­COM) came to be an integral actor in the framing of the PIM law and the application of PIM in the state. The organisation attempted to import the principle of equitable distribution of water in the formal structure of PIM in the state, but eventually it did not succeed in doing so.
Belief System of the Equity Coalition
Policy-core belief system: The policy-core belief system of the equity coalition is complemented by a narrative for greater equity in access to water at the national level. This narrative has been built by academics and activists who are critical of the nature of interventions sought to be made by international monetary organisations in the water sector. Phillippe Cullet’s (2009) major argument, feeding into the belief system of the equity coalition, is that all the water sector reforms falling ­under the purview of an umbrella concept like IWRM are antithetical to the interests of many developing countries. Beyond its primary statement of intending to bring an approach that considers water more comprehensively, the IWRM actually seeks to drastically rework the management of water, the crux of these reforms being to reduce the scope of state control in favour of the private sector. 
Cullet (2009) feels that the bulk of these reforms are targeted at improving the standards of efficiency, dealing with water as an economic good. Consequently, the focus shifts from establishing equitable access to water for all. This is not a policy ­prescription which is suited to a developing country like India, where access to water is still a major issue for many of the weaker sections of the population. This is a sentiment echoed by other academics like Tushaar Shah and Barbara van ­Koppen (2006), who state that evidence on the ground shows that the policy measures suggested as part of IWRM are failing in developing countries because their success is largely related to the growth and maturity of the country’s economy.
As far as PIM legislations in the states are concerned, Cullet (2009) specifically points out to the MMISF Act, 2005 for actively ­excluding many users of water from being a part of the WUAs. He compares the Maharashtra Act with the PIM legislation in Madhya Pradesh, which extends membership in the WUAs to anyone “who uses water for agriculture, domestic, power, non-domestic, commercial, industrial or any other purpose from a Government source of irrigation,” as stated in Section 2(1)(r) of the Madhya Pradesh Participatory Irrigation ­Management Act, 1999. 
Statistics reveal that PIM legislations have done little to ­improve the standards of participation on other fronts as well. A study in Andhra Pradesh (Reddy and Reddy 2005) revealed that 88% of the canal WUA presidents were upper-caste farmers and only 1.2% of the presidents of WUAs were women, who comprised a measly 0.1% of the total number of members in these WUAs. The equity coalition in Maharashtra builds on this wider narrative of exclusion from access to water due to the PIM set-up, by adding specifications relevant to the state.
K J Joy of SOPPECOM clarifies the policy-core belief of the equity coalition in Maharashtra as one which stems from PIM bringing a restructuring approach to the state-run irrigation department, as opposed to PIM merely representing a transfer of responsibilities from the state administration to the farmers (personal interview 2016). This approach must be built on the provisioning of water to all, based on the broad understanding of water as a source of livelihood, instead of a narrow understanding which only views water as a resource for irrigation. The ­central idea is that just as land is considered a resource for production and earning a livelihood, similarly, water too must be considered as a resource for attaining a livelihood. There must be a recognition of the different functionalities of water when it ­exists as a resource in a local area. 
This principle is to be operationalised by dividing the users in terms of primary and secondary users. All those who are directly dependent on the sources of surface water in the local area or command area would qualify as primary users. This would include anyone from a cattle shepherd to a farmer ­requiring water for irrigation. These primary users must then be made a part of the institutions which are authorised to make decisions on the water in the canals, since it directly ­affects their livelihoods. The acceptance of this idea would ­imply that there must be no hierarchy in the uses of water for the purposes of earning a livelihood. This is especially important because the landless and those who are engaged in livelihood practices, which do not depend on land, are generally persons who belong to the most backward socio-economic groups. 
The restructuring approach subscribes to the notion that the IWRM method cannot be restricted only to institutional reforms, which superficially make the scope of the administrative set-up more wholesome, but it must also extend to practices on the ground which account for local conditions and usage patterns of water. As an actor in the equity coalition, SOPPECOM does recognise the features of the PIM set-up itself, which subscribe to notions of equity. These include provisions to establish ­equity in the command area, between the quantum of water supplied to the head, middle and tail portions of the command area, and the reservation of two seats for women on the ­managing committee of a WUA.
Secondary belief system: This belief system of the “equity” coalition consists of critiques of the failure of equity provisions of the PIM law to secure even the limited objectives they seek to achieve. Achieving equity between the head, middle and tail regions of the command area of an irrigation project is based on a guarantee of supplying water to these regions. However, complying with this guarantee has proved to be too big a task for the administration, since water theft in the head reaches of the canals, continues to be a ­problem. Purandare explains that in a bid to meet its obligation to provide a guaranteed supply of water to all areas of the command region, the state administration has employed a ploy whereby they reduce the notified area of the command region itself, thus pushing all areas that do not receive water out of the command region and making them ineligible for ­receiving water (personal interview 2016).
As far as the mandatory membership of at least two women in the managing committee of a WUA is concerned, the restructuring approach to the irrigation set-up as posited by Joy alludes to this mandatory provision of the PIM law as mere ­tokenism (personal interview 2016). The equity coalition is critical of the lack of serious thought given to the participation of women in the affairs of the WUA. This is especially important because women form a large component of the agricultural labour involved in processes like cropping. The law has not taken cognisance of the fact that most women are not landholders and would thus be ineligible for membership in the WUAs. The equity coalition believes that amendments must be made to the PIM law to introduce membership positions like associate member, which do not amount to all the rights of a landholding member, but allow for meaningful participation. An associate member must also be provided with the option of graduating to a full member of the WUA in due course of time. This measure would address the large majority of women who are left out of the PIM process.
Besides this, the actual experience with the implementation of the law suggests that the meetings of the WUAs are not held at timings which are convenient for the participation of ­women. Issues of this kind that pertain to customising the experience to include women in participatory decision-making are largely due to apathy on the part of the state. This apathy also stems from the perceived role of women in rural societies (Kulkarni 2011). Since irrigation is primarily seen as a commodity sector, one to be run by males, the actual participation of women is not taken seriously (Kulkarni 2011: 68).
Actors and Structure of the Equity Coalition
The actors of the equity coalition that have been identified by this study include the SOPPECOM, its associates Joy and Seema Kulkarni, other organisations like Maharashtra Rajya Dharan Grasta Va Prakalpa Grasta Shetkari ­Parishad, the Shramik Mukti Dal, the Shetmajoor Kashtakari Shetkari Sanghatana and academic activists like Bharat ­Patankar and Anant Phadke (2006).
The structure of the coalition resembles the description of a weak coalition as provided in the study by Jasmin Beverwijk, Leo Goedegebuure and Jereon Huisman (2008). The actors do not necessarily actively engage with each other on a regular basis to either work out a collective strategy or to pool their resources together. When Menno Fenger and Pieter-Jan Klok’s (2001) taxonomy of interdependencies is applied to the equity coalition, it qualifies as a coalition where the actors are not interdependent, but share congruent ­beliefs. D N Dhanagare, a noted sociologist who has worked extensively on agrarian movements in Maharashtra, explains this structure of the equity coalition by pointing out that the belief system of the coalition originated from people-centric movements, which was gradually taken over by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other organisations looking to engage with the state in different ways (personal interview 2016). Dhanagare’s thesis is that the moment the agenda of the ­equity coalition came to be taken over by NGOs or other entities seeking to engage with the state, the framework for collective action dissipated as the different actors work towards objectives that fulfil their own agendas, which may be different from those of the coalition (personal interview 2016). The actors do not actually work at cross purposes, but they only seek to align themselves in a collective manner when the momentum of the strategy adopted by a particular actor is likely to yield positive results for all the actors in the coalition. This nature of the coalition is mostly explained by the nature of the belief system and the resources available to the actors.
The belief system of the equity coalition stems from principles of the state being a welfare state. According to Dhanagare, the government in Maharashtra suffers from a credibility crisis among the people of the state, especially among those belonging to the weaker sections of society (personal interview 2016). This trust deficit creates a conducive environment for NGOs, activists and other such entities to become important actors in taking forward the coalition’s agenda. Such actors are a heterogeneous group, and their actions and strategies are ­motivated by their own predispositions towards the state. For instance, many organisations, especially those which originate from people’s movements against the state, are likely to decide on strategies which antagonise the state or steer clear of involving it as a part of the solution. In contrast, NGOs are actors who are usually in a dependent relationship with the state, as they look to work collaboratively towards solutions which favour their cause. Expectedly, it is not a part of their strategy to antagonise the state and instead, they look to work for better outcomes within the given set of circumstances. The repository of resources of the actors also has a major role to play as far as the nature and extent of their actions as a part of the coalition are concerned.
Resources of the Equity Coalition
In a minority coalition with weak coordination between its ­actors, the resources of individual actors determine the extent to which the coalition can push forth its agenda. In a coalition like the equity coalition, where there are no interdependencies between the actors and their resources are separate from each other, there are no notions of collective resources of the ­coalition being present. Therefore, it is essential to analyse the resources of the coalition according to the kind of resources that each actor holds individually.
Financial resources are the most crucial component of the overall repository of resources, since a coalition can sustain its strategy to achieve the goals of policy-core and secondary ­belief systems, only if it has the financial resources to stay in the coalition till the window for policy change arrives. The ­organisations who are actors in a coalition such as the equity coalition differ from each other not just in their attitude ­towards the state, but also their sources of funding. The NGOs which are funded by international donors or partake in projects funded by international monetary organisations have their ­actions dictated by the belief systems of these funding sour­ces. Other components that comprise the “resources” variable ­include “authority” and “information.” Both these components can be considered together for the equity coalition since they directly feed into each other.
Since none of the actors in the equity coalition are a part of the state administration or any political party in the state, none of them can be said to have the authority to make policy ­decisions. The NGOs like SOPPECOM which have collaborated with the state for introducing PIM in the state and creating a conducive environment for a wider acceptance of the PIM law, have greater soft power when it comes to interacting with the state administration, as compared to the organisations which are either ­entirely against the involvement of the state government or have very little experience in collaborating with the state. SOPPECOM also enjoys credibility with the state administration as a research organisation and its studies are often used as the basis for suggesting reforms in matters 
affecting the policy subsystem. This gives it greater authority to propagate the ­secondary belief system of the equity coalition as its studies highlight the poor treatment of the equity aspects of PIM.
Strategy of the Equity Coalition
The strategy followed by the actors in the equity coalition till now has been typical of coalitions with weak coordination ­between the actors. Apart from rare circumstances, the actors do very little to actively support or impede the actions of other actors. The dam oustees’ movement in south Maharashtra was an instance of one of those rare circumstances which brought most of the actors of the coalition together, and they pooled their collective resources to ensure that they got the state to pass policy decisions which were in keeping with their policy-core beliefs. 
According to Dhanagare, a major reason for these otherwise independent actors coming together collectively was that there was a realisation amongst them that a collective push would achieve a policy decision from the state and that none of them would be worse off for it in terms of expended resources (personal interview 2016). Anant Phadke (2000) explains that these special circumstances were created due to the expiry date on the water tribunal’s orders getting closer. This pushed the Maharashtra government into action, building dams in the Krishna River Basin, in a bid to utilise the water allotted to it before the passing of May 2000. The coalition actors involved in the movement sensed the government’s desperation to get the infrastructure in place, when all their attempts at stalling work on the projects were answered with an acceptance of their demands from the government. The actors pushed the state administration to the extent possible to get the equitable distribution of water to be a policy for all new dams. 
Subsequently, the agenda in the irrigation sector changed to the tune of the dominant efficiency coalition and with these special circumstances no longer prevailing, there was little the actors in the equity coalition could do to reimpose their ­agenda in the state. The actors then returned to their positions of ­relative independence and began pushing the belief system of the coalition on to the agenda-setting fora in their own limited ways. Actors like SOPPECOM, which collaborated with the state administration in motivating farmers to take to PIM methods, carried out experiments within the PIM framework and provided practical examples of how a more inclusive framework for PIM might bode well for all the stakeholders involved. With the passage of the PIM legislation, SOPPECOM has modified its role to conducting studies which highlight the failures of the equity provisions of the law in its implementation, and proposing suitable amendments to the law. 
The strategy of being openly critical of the move towards PIM has been adhered to by academics at the national level. These critiques have mostly focused on the role played by ­international funding organisations in introducing policy ­interventions in the water sector. Academics like Phillippe ­Cullet (2009) and P Sainath (1996) claim that the policy interventions made by international funding organisations like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank reek of blatant hypocrisy. In his book, Everybody Loves a Good Drought, Sainath (1996) reveals the construction of dams and canals to be single-handedly responsible for the displacement of 21.6 million people from 1951 to 1990. The World Bank has played a principal role in many of these projects and is a major agent for the displacement of people, with many people facing forced evictions due to projects funded by the bank. Surprisingly enough, the bank is also very proactive when it comes to ­conducting studies on the displacement of people. 
Going forward, a window for policy change in favour of the equity coalition in Maharashtra is likely to open only in ­circumstances where the state government is forced to make the PIM set-up more inclusive. This could happen if and when the inequities created by the present PIM set-up are made more apparent, or receive wider attention. For instance, a period of sustained shortage of water availability is likely to highlight the difficult circumstances of those not currently covered by the institutional framework of a WUA. The extent of this policy change window will be maximised when the need to make ­access to water more equitable is incorporated in the World Bank’s nationwide IWRM strategy. Such events forcing policy change in favour of the minority coalition are events external to the immediate subsystem which enable the minority ­coalition to achieve its goals. The occurrence of such events is also determined by the spillover effects from other policy ­subsystems, changes in subsystem-relevant technologies, or changes in socio-economic conditions among other things ­(Sabatier and Weible 2007).
The Efficiency Coalition
The background in which the efficiency coalition focused on PIM in Maharashtra emerged, is mostly the same as the ­background to the evolution of the PIM law in the state. This is because the enactment of the PIM law was one of the primary objectives of the actors of the coalition. The passage of the ­MMISF Act, 2005 and the ­MWRRA Act, 2005 solidified the coalition in the state, ­ensured the membership of policy actors who are part of the state administration, and provided the coalition with access to financial resources of the state.
The policy-core belief system of the efficiency coalition is based on improving efficiency in the use of resources generally and more specifically, focuses on improving efficiencies in the utilisation of irrigation water, financing of the operations, maintenance of irrigation projects and canals networks, and output from the human resources responsible for water resour­ces management. Different actors of the efficiency coalition express their ideas of the belief system differently. This is because the coalition is driven by actors interacting on two levels—international donors interacting with the union government and ­international donors interacting with state governments.
Since irrigation remains a state subject under the Constitution, international donors have had to push for reforms, as envisaged by them, separately in the states. However, the irrigation ­administration in various states may have different ideas on what the problem areas in the irrigation set-up in their states are and the consequent remedies that the introduction of PIM was to bring to the state. These ideas about the problem areas and the effectiveness of PIM in solving these problems, comprise of the belief systems of actors that are a part of the irrigation or water management administration of the state governments. 
This is also the case in the efficiency coalition in Maharashtra, wherein the actors belonging to the state administration subscribe to the policy-core belief that the PIM set-up is an effective way of realising the entire irrigation potential that has been created in the state, by guaranteeing the supply of water to farmers situated in the middle and tail reaches of distri­bution canals. On the other hand, international donors like the World Bank subscribe to a belief system which focuses on reforming the structures of water management. The PIM is purported to be a way of introducing a system of management based on the same principles that drive private sector enterprises. The farmer is seen as a consumer, who is liable to ­receive superior quality of service and a better product after paying the market price for water. The eventual goal of this belief system is to ­involve the private sector wholeheartedly in the irrigation sector, relegate the government to a regulatory role and establish a market for trade in water rights (World Bank 1998).
The different applications of aspects of the differing policy-core belief system are indicative of the secondary belief systems of the coalition. The common feature of all these different belief systems remains the fact that these applications are all based on ideas and concepts that have been pushed forth by the World Bank. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the ­belief system of the bank when it comes to the efficiency coalition. Academics who are in favour of the shift towards PIM, state that it is the bank’s intention to give a boost to the economic dimensions of water management that is at the crux of its belief system. Thus, among the different goals of the bank’s belief system, the goals of pricing water to ensure efficient ­water allocation and the creation of property rights have been given greater priority than others (Shah 2007). Working with this basic belief system, the World Bank has invited other ­actors at the union and state government levels to be a part of the coalition by pursuing different goals through the PIM ­set-up, all the while subscribing to some aspect of the policy-core belief system of the coalition.
Actors and Structure of the Efficiency Coalition
Although the efficiency coalition is geographically limited to Maharashtra, its actors include entities like the World Bank and even the Ministry of Water Resources in the union government. Other actors that have been identified as part of the study include Sanjay Belsare, former executive engineer of the Maharashtra Water Resources Department (MWRD) and the ­present joint secretary of the department, the MWRD and the MWRRA.
The structure of the coalition closely resembles the description of a coalition with strong coordination amongst the actors as provided in the study by Beverwijk et al (2008). In his interview, Purandare (2015) revealed that the coalition has a top-down line of command with the conception of all policy interventions being done by the World Bank and then operationalised by actors who are a part of the state administration. There is also the likelihood of sanctions being imposed since the policy interventions are being actualised following the World Bank providing the state administration with financial credit. This fulfils the criteria of a coalition displaying strong coordination amongst the actors, as they work according to a common plan of action which is communicated to all members, and the actions of the members are ­monitored for their compliance with the goals of the coalition.
When Fenger and Klok’s (2001) taxonomy of interdependencies is applied to the efficiency coalition, it can be said that the actors are symbiotic in their interdependencies. This implies that the actions of each actor in the coalition contributes to the goal achievement of another actor. This is definitely the case in the efficiency coalition, with all actors fulfilling different roles in order to entrench the PIM set-up in the state. However, the actors in the efficiency coalition are indifferent towards the policy-core beliefs of other actors, since they subscribe to different belief systems which together adhere to the broad scope of the policy-core beliefs of the efficiency coalition. According to Fenger and Klok (2001), this would indicate that the ­efficiency coalition is one of convenience, and is likely to last only as long as the actors have sufficient incentive to engage with each other. 
Interviews with Sanjay Belsare (2015) and Purandare (2015) revealed first, that the state administration seeks an outcome from the PIM set-up which is distinct from the outcomes sought by the World Bank and second, that many developments at the state level like the creation of the MWRRA were carried out at the behest of the World Bank, and that this was not done in furtherance of the belief system of the state ­administration itself, which explains the failure in the ­functioning of the MWRRA (Purandare 2015).
Resources of the Efficiency Coalition
The efficiency coalition is the dominant coalition in the policy subsystem of PIM in Maharashtra. This is because its actors comprise of the state administration. This means that the ­coalition has the ability to set the agenda as far as policy interventions in the irrigation sector are concerned. Most of the ­institutional reforms in the irrigation sector that have taken place in the last two decades have been due to the kind of ­authority exercised by the actors of the efficiency coalition. 
The financial resources of the efficiency coalition are considerable. The $325 million loan given by the World Bank for the Maharashtra Water Sector Improvement Programme (Kulkarni 2011) is a testament to the scale of financial resources that the coalition has dedicated solely for the purposes of ­establishing PIM in the state. As far as information is concerned, the coalition exercises a monopoly on access to information regarding policy developments in PIM, since policy interventions are mostly designed by the actors of the coalition. Additionally, the World Bank engages with NGOs and academics to publish research studies on the experiences of PIM in the state. This is again a way by which the coalition actually puts information in public circulation and shapes the narrative around PIM. This is very different as compared to the equity coalition, which seeks access to information from the state administration.
Strategy of the Efficiency Coalition
The entire strategy of the efficiency coalition in Maharashtra has been determined by the World Bank. In his interview, Purandare (2015)—who played an integral part in the framing of the legislations that ushered in the whole IWRM set-up in the state—it was revealed that the institutional reforms in the water and irrigation sector after 2005, were indirect conditions that the state had to comply with, to receive the loan of $325 million from the bank. This experience is corroborated by Cullet’s (2009) summing up of the World Bank’s strategy to introduce IWRM in the states in India.
He points out that the World Bank’s strategy is based on the ­engagement with individual states separately, but the content of the reforms pushed as conditions for receiving a loan from the bank remain the same. These include focusing on the ­development of participatory planning and implementation processes, decentralisation of decision-making, a shift from supply to demand management, and a reduction in the role of state in favour of a greater role for users and the private ­sector. All these reforms have been sought to be made by ­introducing them through legislations. The aim of the MMISF Act, 2005 was to introduce the PIM aspect of the reforms. The purpose of the passage of the MWRRA Act, 2005 was to create the first-ever quasi-judicial independent regulatory authority in India’s ­water sector. The World Bank’s water sector review report (1998) suggested that the constitutional provisions and the existing water legislations in the country did not provide an adequate framework to solve the real problems. These problems, ­according to the World Bank, are not because of the lack of development of water ­resources, but because of faulty management of water ­resources. Consequently, it introduced water law reforms as a part of its strategy to reform the ­management structures in the sector.
The World Bank admits to its role in influencing states to enact laws in accordance with its vision of how the institutional set-up of water management should be. In fact, the Bank’s Operational Policy stresses that the establishment of legal frameworks is one of its priorities in the water sector in India (World Bank 2000). This position of influence of the bank in driving through legislative reforms in India, is also admitted to in research projects which are sponsored by the bank and carried out in collaboration with academics and NGOs (Gulati et al 2005; Narayanan et al 2014). However, people like Belsare, who are a part of the state administration, do not admit to the World Bank being the primary reason behind the introduction of IWRM in the state (personal interview 2015).
The state and its officials like Belsare maintain that the PIM was introduced by NGOs in the state much before the World Bank ever pushed for it. The stated objectives of the PIM in the state also do not adhere to World Bank’s goals with respect to IWRM. The Vision 2020 document of the Water Resources Department states its objective to achieve the full utilisation of the ­created irrigation potential in the state. In its working, the state has been compliant in passing every one of the bank’s necessary reforms, at least on paper. As Purandare points out, the true intent of these reforms is yet to be realised (personal interview 2016). The state administration simply lacks the necessary will or motivation to actualise the reforms that have been envisaged and put down in the legislations. The state administration has instead gone ahead and created a few isolated success stories in the PIM set-up to legitimise its call to persist with PIM in the state. Purandare and actors of the equity coalition point out that the entire narrative around the success of PIM in the command area of the Waghad Dam has been constructed to fulfil this purpose (personal interview 2016). Purandare alludes to the Waghad Dam as a “pampered project,” in which the administration concentrated their resources in a bid to ensure its success (personal interview 2016). 
The advent of PIM across states in India has been the result of a sustained effort by the World Bank to change the focus of the water sector in India from water resource development, to ­water resource management. In its bid to cement the institutional reforms it considers essential to the IWRM framework, the World Bank has had to provide financial incentives to state governments, in order to ensure their support for the plans of the bank. This strategy of forming coalitions with state actors has put the bank in a very strong position to further its agenda of achieving efficiency in resource management in the water sector. This scenario is reflected in the efficiency coalition in Maharashtra, where the bank holds on to its powerful position in the agenda-setting space, despite the poor performance of the PIM set-up on the ground. This dominant position of the efficiency coalition is likely to continue as long as the state actors find it convenient to align their goals with those of the bank. The considerations which could dictate the relationship ­between the actors in this coalition include financial incentives provided by the bank, and the extent to which the WUAs successfully replace the Water Resources Department in carrying out the operations and management of irrigation projects. The last consideration is especially important, as it would eventually make the PIM a system which is sustained from the bottom-up by the users themselves, as opposed to the top-down manner in which it exists now. The users’ acceptance of the PIM mostly hinges on the extent to which the system is successful in ­providing water to all the farmers in the command areas of the irrigation projects.
The chances of the equity coalition in the state occupying a prime position in the agenda-setting space mostly depend on the PIM system failing in its present form on ­account of excluding landless persons from the WUAs. This could be realised in situations where a strong people’s movement demands for the inclusion of the landless persons under the PIM framework, or if the WUAs actually manage to further distance the landless persons from accessing water, thus making their conditions especially dire on humanitarian grounds. All these situations necessitate the occurrence of external events that are beyond the resources of the equity coalition. If such an event does take place and the equity coalition does find itself in the agenda-setting space in the state, then all the principal actors of the coalition would be required to pursue the goal of making amendments to the PIM law, by working collectively in a coordinated manner. 
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Updated On : 20th Sep, 2018
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