Figure 7. Vijay’s water infrastructure. (Source: Drawing by Cristian Olmos Herrara, co-produced by Rajendra Deshpande, Sneha Bhat, and Seema Kulkarni.)
This article examines what happens when canal water is combined with groundwater. It does so by documenting the complex web of practices that are emerging around accessing, storing and transferring water in the command area of irrigation systems in Ravangaon, a village in Maharashtra, India. From mainly accessing water through field channels that are fed by the public surface irrigation system, farmers have moved to using pumps and siphons to transport water from the canal either directly to their fields or to wells and ponds for storage. Their practices are shaped by hydrogeology – most notably the location and storage capacity of the aquifer in relation to canals and farmers’ plots - as well by the political economy – most notably their relative dependence on waterintensive crops like sugarcane. Access to water has largely become a function of one’s ability to invest in advanced pumping, transporting and storage facilities. In line with other scholars, we conclude that the conjunctive use of canal water and groundwater makes it difficult, if not impossible, to trace and monitor actual water use patterns. This means that water distribution increasingly escapes formal and public forms of regulation and control. The article ends with a reflection on what this means to the advancement of water sustainability and justice.
Bhat, S.; Kulkarni, S.; Deshmukh, R.; Bhopal, S.; Zwarteveen, M. and Sumbre, S. 2023. Conjunctive use of canal water and groundwater: An analysis based on farmers’ practices in Ravangaon, Maharashtra. Water Alternatives 16(1): 65-86
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