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THE EQUITY CONSEQUENCES OF PUBLIC IRRIGATION INVESTMENTS: THE CASE OF SURFACE IRRIGATION SUBSIDIES IN INDIA / доклад на 25 конференции IAAE, Reshaping Agriculture’s Contribution to Society, International Convention Centre, Durban, South Africa, 16-23 August 2003

Опубликовано на портале: 30-11-2003
Public investments in surface irrigation in India have been important in generating agricultural growth and in reducing the threat of poverty and food insecurity. The expansion of irrigation infrastructure and subsidized delivery of irrigation water, along with improved fertilizers and agro-chemicals, facilitated the rapid diffusion of modern high yielding varieties of crops. Irrigation also led to increases in cultivated area, higher cropping intensities and shifts in cropping patterns to higher value-added crops. Water from surface irrigation systems has provided additional benefits as a source of drinking water supply, and in generating power, for industry and residential consumers. Over time the costs of providing and expanding surface irrigation have increased but revenues from irrigation have fallen short of expenditures. The accumulation of financial losses in the irrigation sector has contributed to mounting fiscal crises in Indian states (World Bank 1997, World Bank 2000a,b, World Bank 2001b, World Bank 2003a, Gulati and Sudnarayan 2003) Limited irrigation revenues have also resulted in inadequate expenditures on operation and maintenance (O&M), contributing to the deterioration of existing irrigation infrastructure. Furthermore, the under-pricing of surface irrigation water has encouraged inefficient use, contributing to environmental problems including salinity and waterlogging (Joshi and Tyagi 1995, World Bank 1999, Gulati and Sudanarayan 2003). The social justification of the subsidies are also increasingly debated, particularly how these subsidies are distributed across the population and whether they benefit the poor. The equity consequences of public surface irrigation subsidies are the focus of this paper. Understanding the equity dimension of these subsidies in public surface irrigation systems2 is important not only in determining whether the subsidies benefit the poor, but also in providing policy directions in designing cost-recovery strategies. In order to minimize or eliminate any adverse impacts of cost recovery measures on poor and vulnerable groups, it is necessary to identify how the various users of irrigation water are affected. This paper is organized as follows. Section 1 reviews the structure of surface irrigation charges and the trends in irrigation expenditures and revenues in India. Section 2 discusses the measurement of irrigation subsidies and the data. Section 3 examines the incidence of surface irrigation subsidies and section 4 summarizes the magnitude of these subsidies. Section 5 elaborates the policy implications of the findings of the study.

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