Wednesday, March 5, 2014

PIM Realises Gandhian Vision

                     PIM- A Tool For Farmers’ Self-empowerment. 
                  Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM)
        Seeds, fertilizers, landholdings, finances, irrigation argil techniques and technology are main ingredients of farming. Efficient, prudent and productive use of any would improve the productivity. Irrigation is having top priority as water is precious and scare. Hence, its management will fetch good results to our peasants and country.
       An estimated 70% of agriculture production of India comes from irrigated land. As such, the role of irrigation in strengthening and sustaining the agricultural economy is crucial. Unfortunately, the state of irrigation infrastructure across the county is very poor.
       Design flaws, poor upkeep of physical system, unviable water pricing and bad irrigation management practices contributed to substantial underutilization which is a colossal waste to investment. Spending more than rupees one billion on creating physical infrastructure on dams and canals in many states has reached as little as 25% of potential irrigation.  
        Asia’s population is expected to reach 5 billion by 2050, with an estimated 1.5 billion more people to share its land, water, and food resources. Meeting the region’s food demands will therefore require more efficient use of resources, including irrigation systems, to boost agricultural productivity. Looming climate change effects and declining water resources only complicate the task.
        Irrigation system impacts agricultural productivity and food security. It helps alleviating poverty and promoting inclusive economic growth. Therefore, irrigation and water management is crucial. An integrated, cross-sectoral and participatory approach is essential to our water management.
       Before 1960, traditional form of local management of water resources for different uses was prevalent in many countries around the world. In most of the developed countries like the Netherlands, France, Germany, Portugal, and Spain local management models had evolved through the social cooperative processes in overall governance.
      In developing countries like India, Iran, Indonesia, Sri Lanka in the absence of stable governance during the Medieval period, the local communities came together to develop local water resources and irrigation systems to ensure water availability for agriculture.
      Many imposed institutional reforms and strategies that were expected to improve the performance of the contemporary irrigation sector. Due to the deteriorating conditions of such infrastructure, one of the major institutional reforms introduced, especially by the financing agencies like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank in the eighties was “Participatory Irrigation Management” (PIM)

      Participation is defined as a process through which stakeholders influence and share control of development initiatives and of decisions and resources that aect them.  Thus, participation requires more than just disseminating information and giving farmers government-specified roles in projects.
 Participation in irrigation management involves a larger role for farmers, water groups, and other stakeholders. It may range from oering information and opinions during consultations, to fully enabling farmers to act as principal decision makers in all or most project activities.
     PIM is hinged around developing cooperation with and involvement of farmers in operation, management, and maintenance of the irrigation systems at secondary and tertiary levels through the “Water User Associations” (WUAs). During last three decades about 60 countries having significant irrigated area have adopted PIM in varying degrees and ways.
        The WUAs are considered as the most appropriate entity to bring together farmers being served by a given infrastructure and act as an interface between the farmers and the Irrigation Agency towards conflict resolution and cooperation and also to build synergy among all stakeholders. PIM approach in improving the efficiency and performance of irrigation systems is not in question.  
       During last three decades many countries notably Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam took initiative in introducing PIM approach with an intension of turning ‘vicious cycle’ to ‘virtuous cycle’ in their public managed initiative.
       However, in many cases the concept of participation by farmers is considered as alien to the culture and is introduced as one of the many imposed institutional reforms and strategies that were expected to improve the performance of the contemporary irrigation sector.
        World Bank (WB) supported Uttar Pradesh Water Sector Restructuring Project Phase-1(UPWSRPP) closed on 31October, 2011. It developed a multi-faceted long-term program covering a 15-20 year horizon.
In this phase 343000 hectares of irrigation and drainage systems rehabilitated and modernized. Over 800 WUAs were set-up. UP PIM enacted in 2009. State-level water resource institutions were set-up. A management information system in UP irrigation department was introduced.
       WB approved UPWSRPP-2 worth $ 360 million credit to India on August 28, 2013. It aims to help build the institutional capacity needed to increase agricultural productivity in this low-income state where agriculture will continue to play an important role in alleviating poverty. The phase-2 will also support the UP government’s effort to consolidate and deepen its various institutional reform initiatives such as PIM act during phase-1.
       PIM act played a transformative role in giving WUAs greater responsibility in managing waters available for the farms. WUAs are also playing a greater role in managing the operations and maintenance of local systems, resolving conflicts amongst competing users and assessing water charges.
       Some of the other important initiatives that will be taken up in this phase include a specialized flood management information system as more than 30% of the total geographical area in 23 districts of UP in flood-prone.
       Extensive use of modern technology such as satellite remote sensing, GIS, and mobile-based applications will be employed. As part of the project’s design, the UP Remote Sensing Applications Center will monitor agriculture areas using satellite technologies.

Plainly speaking, PIM is decentralization of power. Right now, UP irrigation department officials are managing it. PIM is an act which transfers this power from government officials into hands of common farmers’ hand. WUAs would associate farmers in different level committee. These committee would be registered with irrigation department and have to work under the direction and control of it. 

     Under Panchayati Raj system, a village has more than fifteen committee. Most of them are headed by Gram Pradhan. It is assumed, each takes collective decisions after through discussion in open meeting.
Likewise, PIM is another step to devolve officials power to common farmers associated into different level’s committee. PIM fulfils the  dream and desire of our national father Gandhiji.
      PIM empowers common farmers to associate themselves into registered Kulawa, Alpika, Rajbaha and Brach committee. These would manage whole irrigation affairs as directed by PIM rules and regulations.

In India, 16 states enacted PIM. Under this and other notifications, Andhara Pradesh at top has formed 10748 committee followed by MP with 1687. UP stands at 15th with 830.
       UP Irrigation department is nodal agency to implement this project through Project Activity Core Team (PACT). Deen Dayal Upadhaya state insititue for rural development is engaged for Information, Education and Communication (IEC).
      In UPWSRPP-1, after PIM, 7 districts were covered. All irrigation facilities in these districts were handed over to newly formed committee. This phase ended in March 5, 2010. 
      UPWSRPP-2 proposed to cover 16 districts. Irrigation department team conducted one day workshop in all districts to aware all associated and connected officials, public and representatives.
      In IEC effort, one day workshop was organised on March 4, 2014 at Firozabad- one of the 16 districts. A successful and useful workshop was organised in association with irrigation department and Regional institute rural development Manpuri.  
      More than 600 participated. A booklet, containing all information regarding PIM in a simple language, was given to all participants as IEC materials. After knowing new system under PIM, all felt happy. A mark of pleasure was observed on the faces of participants as PIM is empowering them. This sensitization and awareness workshop inspired them to fall in love with PIM.
       Motivated participants took pledge and gave commitment to embrace PIM. This will galvanized the irrigation system if implemented as envisaged in the act. Improving governance by PIM of one input (irrigation) would lead to enhance productivity without any additional cost. It is strengthening our Panchati Raj Institutions. 
       PIM is a nice step in favour of our farmers in line with our gram swaraj. PIM is an economical, farmer’s friendly and cost effective tool. Hence it is an appreciable step. As a participant of this workshop, I visualized that PIM is converting Gandhian visions into reality.

Heera Lal (Views are personal and based on different sources)