Times of change? Insights into the Government of India's water policy and management response to climate change

England, Matthew (2012) Times of change? Insights into the Government of India's water policy and management response to climate change. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This thesis examines how climate change is being integrated within India's national and state government
water policy and management practices. Climate change poses significant challenges to the management of
non-stationary hydro-meteorological conditions, whilst meeting rising water demand. The nature and
orientation of the Indian government's water institutional approach compounds this challenge, due to the1r
focus on large-scale infrastructure-based supply-side water management. This research takes an
interdisciplinary political ecology approach to examine the Indian hydrocracy's response, namely, the Ministry
of Water Resources' (MWR) policy response to climate change, and the state level response by the Andhra
Pradesh (AP) Irrigation Department. The analysis is based on policy documents and other government reports,
interviews with policy makers and water managers, and non-government water experts 1n India, conducted
between 2008 and 2011. The research draws on theoretical groundings of the linear and interactive models to
understand public policy processes, water management paradigms including the hydraulic mission, river basin
trajectory and institutional reform theory to understand the process and pace of government change. The
Indian water policy experience will generate insights into the use of water policy to respond to climate change.
The results indicate that climate change is being integrated within policy and water management practices as a
continuation of infrastructure-based supply approaches to water management. This approach is facilitated by
the uncertainty of climate change projections and impacts, which provide plasticity for it to be used to
strengthen a sanctioned 'water for food' government discourse and hence continue India's hydraulic mission.
The MWR and AP Irrigation Department appear resistant to change their strategic approach to water
management. However, certain reformist actors within the margins of government are endeavouring to
operationalise demand management strategies and institutional reform measures, broadly representing a
reflexive modernity stage of water management. Insights into the Indian water policy process highlight
numerous challenges to implementation, consistent with an interactive theoretical model of public policy.
Implementation challenges of paramount importance include the politically contested nature of water
management which serves vested political and financial interests, and the inertia of government, characterised
by centralised and hierarchical structures and procedures. The government appears to be operating within the
limits of a linear theoretical model of public policy, recommending demand management and institutional
reform 'statements of policy intent', but without offering a suitable institutional approach to address
implementation challenges. The hydrocracy is largely permitted to continue its approach within the wider
political context in India, with other actors implicitly supporting and benefiting from large-scale water
infrastructure. In conclusion, this research finds that both continuity and change co-exist within government
water management in India. Resistance to change endures, whilst at the same time, certain reformist actors
are intent to navigate the complex and uncertain nature of institutional reform.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of International Development
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2014 14:56
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2014 14:56
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/48157
DOI:

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