More Drops for Hyderabad City, Less Crops for Farmers: Institutions, Policies, and Intersectoral Water Transfers in Andhra Pradesh, South-India

A major drawback of the vibrant development of water resources in the last decades is the closure of river basins, i.e. a situation where all the resource available is committed to beneficial uses, and thereby additional withdrawals by users or sectors can only be possible through water reallocation. In India , and particularly in the south peninsular semi-arid area, the diversion of river water for agricultural production from the 1950s onwards during the so-called "green-revolution" dramatically brought down the volume of uncommitted water available for covering additional needs. The demand for water of fast growing cities like Hyderabad ( Andhra Pradesh State ) over the last 20 years thus engendered great intersectoral competition between municipalities and farmers. Water transfers between the municipal and the agricultural sectors are generally based upon, fostered or constrained by existing policies and laws. Moreover, a "favourable" legal framework allows farmers to be compensated for the water loss they face when water is transferred to urban areas, as demonstrated by cases in other countries around the world. In the case of water supply to Hyderabad city from the Manjira and Krishna Rivers , the provision of existing laws and policies in Andhra Pradesh dealing more or less specifically with water proved to be inadequate for regulating the intersectoral water transfer, not to mention the compensation measures. The Government could reallocate the resource by issuing two Government Orders (GOs), as vested it is with complete powers over surface waters as per the provisions of the Indian Easement Act of 1882 as well as the State Acts concerned with irrigation. In actual application, the GOs proved to be weakly binding and easily infringed while put into operation. This paper quantifies the water transfer between the agriculture and Hyderabad , analyses the shortcomings of the formal reallocation mechanism adopted, and specifically frames the case study within Andhra Pradesh water institutions and policies.