Justice and equity in watershed development in Andhra Pradesh
Place of Publication
Reddy, V.R. & Syme, G.
School of Business and Law
Water reform is occurring in many countries in a variety of ways. This reform has been underpinned by growing demand for water, growing populations, urbanization, decreasing quality of potential water supplies, and the challenges posed by climate change. Watershed development (WSD) policies have played a central role in its various guises in developing and developed countries. While sustainability of water resources management has been the underlying theme of WSD, this has been expressed in different priorities and goals. These are likely to lead to different social outcomes and different formulations of policies. For example, in Australia water reform began in the 1990s with the primary goal of environmental protection. As it developed environmental protection was seen in the separation of land and water resources, the introduction of concrete water entitlement policies, and the introduction of markets. Social goals have been muted and largely assessed in terms of western social impact methodology, which had the underlying assumption that so long as there were no unacceptable social impacts, WSD (or integrated water management) policies could be adopted. This approach has led to community wide discussion as to the “rights” of irrigators vis-á-vis other interests and the presentation of a variety of equity and ethical arguments in relation to WSD. These arguments have become confused as water allocation issues have moved from local to state arenas. In contrast, there has been a clear enunciation of social goals for Indian WSD and concern for equity issues in terms of the distribution of any benefits from WSD. Issues such as property rights and the role of markets, which have been so important in Australian circumstances, have been less than evident. Different underlying issues associated with karma also exist in India but not in Australia. City versus country issues in relation to water allocation have resulted in the development of informal markets. The social, ethical, and equity issues, as in Australia, have also been shown to change as the scale of WSD policy has been considered. In this chapter the empirical results of the Andhra Pradesh case studies and the findings of a comparative study in South Australia are used to examine how the different social and equity premises of the two countries could lead to different outcomes from WSD. It also examines the issues of whether the move toward property rights and markets evidenced in several developed countries are the inevitable or most successful approach for all countries concerned with improving the public good nature of WSD.