Over the past thirty years, farmers in India have decreased their use of water tanks, or local water bodies, to irrigate their lands, preferring groundwater irrigation instead. This has led to a decline in water tables across India.
The Government of Telangana launched Mission Kakatiya to repair the approximately 46,500 water tanks in the state to increase the amount of water available for irrigation. Each tank serves one command area, or ayacut, which roughly covers one village. Farmers within these command areas rely on surface irrigation from tanks for cultivation in addition to rainfall during the monsoon season and groundwater if they own a borewell. Even within the same command area, however, the amount of water available in the tank is influenced by the tank’s storage capacity and the farmers’ cooperation to maintain it. The distribution of water a farmer receives from the tank may also be influenced by the relative proximity to the tank and whether a network of field channels exists.
Researchers randomly selected 92 water tanks across fifteen districts in Telangana that had not been rehabilitated under Mission Kakatiya, half of which were randomly assigned to be rehabilitated in the upcoming project phase, while the other 46 were delayed for rehabilitation in the later phases of the project. The rehabilitation work included sluice repairs to help control water flow, bund repairs to protect water quality, or desilting works to remove sediments from the tank bed.
After one year, researchers investigated the impacts of the tank rehabilitation on individual farmers, villages, and the environment. Researchers measured farm productivity and agricultural output of important crops, including paddy, cotton, and maize; economic welfare, including income from agriculture and farmers’ consumption; water table levels, and village-level impacts, including the price of buying water and village amenities.
Results forthcoming. Preliminary and incomplete findings are discussed in this report, “An Assessment of Minor Irrigation Tank Rehabilitation under Mission Kakatiya: Evidence from Telangana.”
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