E.1.3 Samrat00001

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					    Theme – E. Social Norms, culture and human behavior in relation to the environment

    Tanks in Rural West Bengal: Performance and Institutions for Sustainable
                                            Samrat Goswami
                                       ICFAI University Mizoram,
                                         Chaltlang, Salem Veng
                                       Aizawl - 796012, Mizoram
                                          Mobile: 09863211123

Village tanks not only provide direct income through irrigating lands in rural areas and providing scope
for fish cultivation, but also an integral part of the village economy and society. The rural development, in
a sustained manner, can be achieved through proper management of these small but important
environmental resources. The efficiency and performance of tanks primarily depends upon physical,
socioeconomic and management-related factors. But, the management of tanks also significantly guided
by institutional set up in the village for tank management, ownership right of the tank, property rights and
user rights prevailing in the village where the tank is situated, social norms and effectiveness of
participation of the users in tank management-related activities. In this backdrop, the present paper tries to
portray the institutional status of village tanks in West Bengal and the extent of participation of the tank
users in tank management process. Therefore, the objective of the paper is to evaluate the existing
institutional set up of the village tanks, important for sustainable tank use and the factors important for
effective participation in tank management by the users. The study has been conducted in two districts of
Purulia and Bankura in western part of the state. Standard statistical tools, econometric tools and data
envelopment analysis have been used to analyse data. Data envelopment analysis has been used to find
out the relative efficiency of tanks, a performance index has been calculated on the basis of multiple tank
benefits obtained from tanks and effective user participation has been measured through a binary logistic
model. The study points out the importance of the existence of proper institutional structure and property
rights of tanks as significant factors for effective tank management. Besides, family income, willingness
to participate in tank management activity and number of private wells in tank command are important
factors in tank management. The paper is organized in five sections starting with introduction and
conceptual framework. Second section focuses upon the past studies on tank performance, management
and institutions. Section three describes the study area and methodology adopted in brief, whereas, the
section follows (section four) analyses the data. The final section concludes with policy suggestions.

1. Introduction and Conceptual Framework

Tanks are very important source of water in villages in India, particularly it’s support in terms of
irrigation and are very old way of conserving water. Tanks prevail in different parts of India, but
the practice is famous in South Indian states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and also in
Andhra Pradesh. Besides, the tank irrigation is familiar practice in western parts of Gujarat and
Rajasthan and eastern parts of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. As south Indian states do not
have any perennial source of water therefore, they heavily rely upon these tanks for fulfilling
their irrigation needs. This felt need has gradually drawn attention of planners and thinkers from
large scale irrigation and groundwater irrigation towards the decentralised tank irrigation and
over the years significant literature on tank irrigation has developed focusing on tank
performance, factors behind performance, tank institution and governance, and tank
rehabilitation covering the south Indian states and other parts of India. Surprisingly, the so called
‘water-blessed’ West Bengal with large number of water storage structures, and low average tank
irrigation has not been studied so far in past. Against this backdrop, the paper is a modest attempt
to add to the already existing literature of tank irrigation. The broad objective of the paper is to
judge the overall status of tanks in West Bengal. Specifically, the paper intends to see first, the
performance of tanks and factors behind, and secondly, present tank management practices
prevailing. The paper plans to address the above mentioned issues through six sections. The first
section is the introductory section. Section two draws a brief sketch of water resources in West
Bengal with special reference to tanks. Third section introduces a brief idea of the study area and
the methodology applied to conduct the study. Section four measures the performance and
efficiency of tanks in the study area and the factors behind them. The fifth section concentrates
upon the institutional aspects of tanks in the study area and its management pattern and
rejuvenation. The final and concluding section comes out with some suggestions for better
management of this water resource.

2. Past Studies on Tank Performance, Management and Institutions

    Performance of tanks has been measured by many researchers in different ways. The broad
    measure remains the same though it differed from area to area and on the basis of the objective
    of study. Tank performance is normally measured in terms of the ratio of actual irrigated area by
    the tank to maximum area that tank can irrigate, i.e. actual command area to potential command

    area. Various measures of tank performance have been applied in different studies. In the study
    conducted by Palanisami and Balasubramanian (1998), tank performance has been measured as
    Adjusted Tank Performance (ATP) by subtracting well irrigated area from tank irrigated area
    for the wells above the threshold limit (sample mean) and dividing by total command area. In
    case the tank command do not have wells over the threshold limit, the ATP will be nothing but
    normally measured tank performance. In a paper, authored by Abhishek Sharma (2003), the
    frequency in which a tank fills up across the years, is used as a proxy of tank performance
    (IWMI, 2003). The study conducted by Palanisami and Flinn (1988), a detailed study on the
    performance of a tank irrigation system has been done and the performance has been measured
    in terms of increase in productivity and income equity, both under existing physical and
    management set up and improved physical and management set up. In their study, the
    performance has been measured through a simulation model. The model takes care of the
    simulation of decision-making at various levels and at various positions. The productivity has
    been measured in terms of productivity ratio in improved condition to actual condition and the
    value of the ratio greater than one implies that system performance has increased. On the other
    hand, the equity ratio was defined as per hectare net returns of head-end farms to that of tail-end
    farms. In the measurement, the value of ratio one will assure equity in the system and deviation
    from one will imply inequitable distribution of income among head-end and tail-end farmers
    due to poor irrigation system performance. In another study conducted by Shahbaz Mushtaq et
    al. (2007), two types of tank performance indicators have been developed, objective
    performance indicator, based on soil conditions and subjective performance indicator, based on
    farmer’s perception. Both of them were constructed to evaluate the collective action. In all these
    studies mentioned so far, performance of tanks and tank irrigation systems has been measured
    in terms of its productivity, but in rural areas, tank is an important life support system.
    Considering the importance of tanks in village life the performance measurement should
    incorporate the other uses of tanks apart from productivity. The other uses of tanks have been
    incorporated in a study conducted by R. M. Dick and Palanisami (2001), in their work in 80
    tank chains in northern and southern Tamil Nadu. The study has measured tank performance
    incorporating all possible benefits provided by tanks to measure the impact on the village
    economy. Specifically, tank performance, in the study, has been measured in terms of overall
    tank performance by use share, capturing all probable uses of tanks weighted by the probability


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