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Benefits of irrigation water transfers in the National River Linking Project: A case study of Godavari (Polavaram)-Krishna link in Andhra Pradesh

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Benefits of Irrigation Water Transfers in the National River Linking Project: A Case Study of Godavari (Polavaram)-Krishna Link in Andhra Pradesh Anik Bhaduri, Upali A. Amarasinghe and Tushaar Shah International Water Management Institute, New Delhi,
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  173 Benefits of Irrigation Water Transfers in the NationalRiver Linking Project: A Case Study of Godavari(Polavaram)-Krishna Link in Andhra Pradesh  Anik Bhaduri, Upali A. Amarasinghe and Tushaar Shah International Water Management Institute, New Delhi, India Introduction The Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management Report of the International WaterManagement Institute (IWMI) states that presently one third of the world population facesome form of water scarcity (Rijsberman 2006). Several hydrological projections have alsoindicated that in the future, water availability may plummet to a point where it intensifies water-scarcity, and may even become a global threat to human development (Barbier 2004). Such awidening gap between the demand and supply of freshwater has prompted the ConsultativeGroup on International Agricultural Research to initiate a Challenge Program on Water andFood (CPWF) and address the concerns about global food and water scarcity.Many articles (Howe et al. 1986: Saleth 2001) have identified two fundamental ways tomeet water-scarcity. First, water-scarcity can be mitigated by managing the demand for water.Water demand management (WDM) offers the potential to increase water availability bycoupling proper water allocation with efficient use. However, mitigating water scarcity only bymanaging demand has its limitations. Its implementation has been fraught with numerousdifficulties and constraints, most of which relate to the lack of enabling environment andinstitutional capacity for the adoption and implementation of Integrated Water ResourcesManagement (Ncube et   al. 2006).Second, water scarcity can be met by augmenting the supply of water. Inter-basin watertransfer often is viewed as an instrument to mitigate water scarcity through the diversion of water from a water-surplus part of a given river basin system to one or more water-deficitareas in another river basin. (Bhaduri 2005). The main objective behind the implementation of such projects is to continuously meet the existing and future water demand in the face of decreasing relative water availability. Creating new sources to augment water supply requireslarge investments and effective institutions for allocating water.As part of the CPWF program, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) hasundertaken a study to examine the viability of inter-basin water transfers in meeting waterscarcity in water-deficient zones. The paper particularly explores the benefits of surface wateraugmentation in the agricultural sector.  174 A. Bhaduri, U. A. Amarasinghe and T. Shah The primary focus of the paper is India’s National River Linking Project (NRLP). Thechoice of the case study is well justified in the sense that India is no exception to the generalglobal trend of rising demand for freshwater. There is little doubt to the popular belief thataccess to freshwater availability in India has depleted over the years and, is likely to worsenin the coming years. The per capita water availability of 5,400 cubic meters per person in 1950has decreased to 1,900 cubic meters per person in 2000 (Amarasinghe et al. 2005). Added tothis, there has been a large regional spatial variation in different river basins in terms of waterand food availability. As a consequence of spatial variations in different river basins, theGovernment of India has proposed several inter-basin transfer schemes. The project has thespecific aim of diverting ‘surplus’ water from the Himalayan rivers in the north and east towater deficit areas in the peninsular and western India for development uses, e.g., irrigation,urban water supply, industrial use and hydro-electricity.The National Water Development Agency (NWDA) of India has identified 30 Himalayanand peninsular rivers for such inter-basin water transfers (NWDA 1999). The Himalayancomponent consists of 14 links that involves transfers from the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghnabasins, while in the peninsular component the water transfers would take place among 16 riversthat include the Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Pennar, and Cauvery river basins. Among thepeninsular component, the Godavari River has been considered as the sizeable surplus, and itis proposed that this river will transfer its surplus water to the Krishna, Pennar and Cauveryriver basins. The paper illustrates the Godavari Link, and explores the potential economicbenefits of the link for the agricultural sector. The scope of the study is confined to theagricultural sector as much of the water is used for agricultural purposes. The Polavaram Project The Godavari is the second largest river basin in India with about 320,000 km 2  of catchmentarea, and has been considered as the surplus basin for transferring water to the Krishna Riverbasin. The water diversion is planned to take place entirely within the State of Andhra Pradeshusing a dam to be constructed at Polavaram; and then through a 174 km long canal (right maincanal) running westward to connect the Krishna River. It has been envisaged by thegovernment authorities that the water diversion will provide irrigation to around 0.14 millionha of cultivated land, besides the transfer of 80 tmc of Godavari waters to the Krishna River(NWDA 1999).Apart from establishing the Godavari Krishna Link, the Government of Andhra Pradeshhas also designed the Polavaram Water Diversion Project so that it could be developed intoa multi- purpose project. The plans of the project intend to use the diverted water from theGodavari River to provide irrigation benefits to a cultivated command area of 0.175 millionhectares in the upland areas of the eastern side of the command area, in addition to supplyingwater to the city of Visakhapatnam for domestic and industrial purposes. The water transferwill take place through a 208 km long canal running eastwards towards the city of Visakhapatnam (see Figure 1).  175 Benefits of Irrigation Water Transfers in the National River Linking Project: Godavari-Krishna Link  Figure 1. Proposed command area map of the Polavaram Dam. Why Does Andhra Pradesh Need a Polavaram Project? A perennial shortage of freshwater resources for agriculture, industry and domestic purposeshas prompted the Government of Andhra Pradesh to explore in its own way suitable methodsto harness the available surface waters. Certain recent observations of irrigation data fromAndhra Pradesh suggest that in the past decade, irrigation through surface water sources haslargely been overtaken by groundwater irrigation. Subsidized electricity charges and the timelyavailability of water have encouraged farmers to buy water pumps and exploit the groundwaterresource extensively. The consequence is reflected in the falling water tables. The currentsituation turns out to be double whammy for the state government, in that the governmenthas to continue to pay the subsidies, while depth to groundwater continues to increase.(Narayanmoorthy et al. 2005).The Government of Andhra Pradesh has spent a considerable amount of money forirrigation and other irrigation reforms. Since the last decade the spending on irrigation is betweenRs. 1,500-Rs. 2,000 crores per year. The government’s efforts notwithstanding, there has beenlittle improvement in surface irrigation by the government source. Given the urgent need tomeet the irrigational water demand, the government has planned to construct few dams andseveral lift irrigation schemes. The Polavaram Project, embarked upon by the Government of Andhra Pradesh is one such attempt. Presently, much of the water of the Godavari River flowsinto the Indian Ocean; in that government agencies estimate that around 644 tmcft (18 billionm 3 ) of water is currently not being utilized from the Godavari, and flows into the sea. Hence,the Government of Andhra Pradesh wants to capture a part of this unused water by constructinga dam at Polavaram.  176 A. Bhaduri, U. A. Amarasinghe and T. Shah Objective of the Paper The research paper contributes in assessing the benefits of irrigation from the proposedPolavaram Dam. Many argue that a major proportion of the economic benefits of the dam couldbe realized from agriculture, and this is evident from the government’s proposal, which indicatesthat nearly 64 % of the water from the River Godavari will be diverted for irrigation purposesonly. The research paper attempts to address the question – how additional surface irrigationfacility would help farmers to increase agricultural productivity.The contribution of the research paper is not confined to direct irrigation benefits only.The paper also raises other hydrological concerns about the potential role of surface waterirrigation in cases, where groundwater has been the dominant form of irrigation. The issueis very relevant and much talked about, as groundwater irrigation contributes 67 % of thenet irrigated area of the country. Also governmental data sources reveal that in 1997 morethan 50 % of cultivable area was irrigated from groundwater sources in the proposedcommand area of the Polavaram Dam (NWDA 1999). Our research studies indicate thatpresently groundwater depth is rising in many regions of the command area, and this imposesa severe constraint for the farmers on their crop choice, yield, cost of inputs and agriculturalincome. The issue is relevant in assessing the benefits of surface water irrigation andparticularly considering that surface irrigation could facilitate groundwater recharge, reducethe stress on groundwater resources, and thereby help farmers in increasing the net valueof groundwater irrigated land.Past studies, related to the cost benefit analysis of surface irrigation projects, reveal atrend which suggests that the farmers grow mostly water-intensive crops, for instance, paddy,with the introduction of surface water irrigation. Thus, another issue of importance is whetherthe farmers who are growing high-value crops using costly groundwater would shift to low-value water-intensive crops such as paddy with surface irrigation. Several studies indicatethat increases in productivity through canal irrigation are greater with multi-cropping and thecultivation of more profitable water-intensive cash crops such as sugarcane (Singh 2000). Weresearched whether surface irrigation would set a broader choice option for farmers in termsof crop diversification.Livestock is an important source of income for the livelihood of farmers. The study alsoattempts to assess the livestock benefits that may be generated from the water diversion atPolavaram.We have relied on the farm level primary survey data to assess the irrigation and livestock benefits of the water transfer, and to answer such questions as discussed above. A sample of 1,000 farmers was selected in the proposed command area, adjacent command area and in therain-fed areas to evaluate the irrigation benefits.The structure of the paper is organized as follows - in the next section we briefly explainthe methodology in computing the ex ante benefits from the water diversion at Polavaram,after which in the following section, we describe the sampling plan and technique, and in thefinal section we explore the characteristics of the region.  177 Benefits of Irrigation Water Transfers in the National River Linking Project: Godavari-Krishna Link  Methodology and Data Any assessment of the economic value of surface water generally begins with decisionsthat define the conceptual and empirical domain of the valuation (EPA 1995). Given an exante standing of the Polavaram Project, we define a reference condition for valuation as theexisting agricultural and irrigation condition of the proposed irrigation command area, andthe expected condition as that of a nearby surface irrigation command area. We, then, definethe change in the net value per hectare of land as the differences between the referencecondition and expected condition.Using economic benefit analysis, we identify the changes of, for instance, the croppingpattern, yield, and fertilizer usage, which could be affected by the introduction of surface waterin the proposed command area.Impacts or changes through the introduction of surface water can be measured byestimating the change in the demand and supply functions of the goods and services, resultingfrom the diversion of surface water, and then measuring the welfare change or change inwillingness-to-pay. There are a number of market-based approaches that may be useful inestimating the economic value of changes in the availability of irrigated water. Here, we areadopting a market-based approach in a partial equilibrium framework, to estimate the value of production change in agricultural crops. As the market price of agricultural crops is oftendistorted by subsidies and the minimum support price, in the given context we will not beconsidering the change in consumer welfare (consumer surplus). 1 1  For such reasons, there is no need to consider the demand side. We can assume that the price of goodsis fixed or follows a time trend. Calculation of benefits of surface irrigation requires information about area, yield andcropping pattern both before and after the project. There is a dearth of secondary data onthe present agricultural and irrigational scenario of the proposed command area. The samplesurvey has provided us a lot of information to fulfil the requirement to estimate the benefitof irrigation. The information regarding the Polavaram Project, proposed cropping patternand potential net irrigated area are taken from the Andhra Pradesh Environmental ImpactAssessment Report. Sampling Plan A stratified random sampling scheme is used for assessing the direct and indirect economicbenefits of irrigation water transfers, as a stratified sample can provide greater precision thana simple random sample of the same size, and thus requires a smaller sample to estimate thetrue characteristics of the population.
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