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The outcome of using tools

The confusion and obscurity in allocation policy is evident from the contradictory provisions in the related policy instruments. On the one hand a higher priority was accorded to industrial as compared with agricultural water use in the SWP (Government of Maharashtra 2003). On the other hand the MWRRA Act provided for equitable water distribution in the form of assurance of water entitlements to each farmer in the command area (the area in which the benefits are experienced) of the dam. The principle of allocating water to the landless remained unaccepted.

The MWRRA Act is legally enforceable while the SWP was just a policy statement without the force of a law. The SWP was passed by the government in 2003 and the MWRRA Act came into force in 2005. So it was expected that the Act would supersede the provisions in the SWP which accorded higher priority to industrial water use. Based on this it was expected that the farmers should get their due rights in the form of water entitlements. However, in reality these provisions in the law were bypassed by the Minister for WRD while making decisions on water reallocations after the MWRRA law had passed. The Minister continued using the pre-MWRRA mechanism of re-allocating water from irrigation to non-irrigation purposes without any public hearing or compensation to affected farmers. In total, the Ministerial committee reallocated about 2000 million cubic metres of water from 51 different dams, leading to a reduction of 313 196 ha of irrigation. Out of this reallocation, 54 per cent was for the urban and domestic sector and 46 per cent was for the industrial sector.3 Thus, the outcome of the participatory tool - in the form of acceptance of the principle of 'equity' - was not adhered to by the political leaders who were involved in influencing the policy formulation process. Thus, tool use during formulation of these policies was not completely successful in countering the vested interests.

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