Wastewater constitutes an alternative water source for the irrigation sector. To fully benefit from it, and reduce possible adverse effects on public health and the environment, we need to look at the regulation of the practice. A prerequisite for this is an institutional analysis, and the points to consider are the institutional mandates. We used the city of Hyderabad, India, as a case study. There, irrigation with wastewater is not supported or recognized, but it happens in practice. It takes place in an indirect and unplanned way. Institutions fail at enforcing regulations, and little attention is given to formalization of the practice. With this article, we aim to untangle the institutional setup, and by doing so, identify the constraints surrounding development of a formal practice. Ultimately, we aim at contributing to the discussion on the agricultural use of wastewater.

ABBREVIATIONS

  • AP

    Andhra Pradesh

  • APPCB

    Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board

  • GHMC

    Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation

  • IWRM

    Integrated Water Resources Management

  • HMDA

    Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority

  • HMWSSB

    Hyderabad Municipal Water Supply and Sewerage Board

  • ICADD

    Irrigation and Command Area Development Department

  • IDA

    Institutional Decomposition Analysis

  • NWP

    National Water Policy

  • PIM

    Participatory Irrigation Management

  • STP

    Sewage treatment plant

  • SWP

    State Water Policy

  • UASB

    Up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket

  • WUA

    Water Users Association

INTRODUCTION

Irrigation with wastewater has become a standard practice in developing countries, basically due to the inadequate infrastructure for wastewater collection and treatment (Drechsel & Evans 2010). Indeed, most urban settlements discharge wastewater into natural drains without any treatment. Farmers downstream use this low-quality water for agricultural irrigation, due to its availability or because they have no other choice (Qadir et al. 2010). The practice poses adverse effects on public health and the environment. To prevent this, and to benefit from additional water that would otherwise be discarded, a shift from informal to formal use of wastewater in agriculture is required. A drawback, however, is that formal institutional frameworks seldom keep pace with the challenges of a rapidly changing society.

The purpose of this article is to untangle the institutional framework in relation to agricultural use of wastewater, and to identify the main constraints for developing a formalized practice. We focus on the institutions because they are an important and often overlooked aspect of water resources development (Pagan 2009). It is anticipated that an analysis of the institutional framework is required to identify lacunas. The region around Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh (AP) in India is taken as study area. Hyderabad is a rapidly growing city, with typical problems in terms of infrastructure development.

The next section describes the analytical framework and data collection. Following that, the institutional setup is decomposed in terms of ‘institutional environment’ and ‘institutional structure’. The latter is then assessed in more detail. Finally, we present our conclusions.

ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK

Institutions are ‘the rules of the game in society or […] the humanly devised constraints that shape human interaction’ (North 1990). New institutionalism theory suggests that institutions matter because they influence norms, beliefs and actions, shaping the outcomes of society (Przeworski 2004). The role of institutions in water management has grown in importance over the years (Pagan 2009). Studying institutional setup is critical in institutional analysis; this will help to understand the changes needed to face new challenges in society.

The first step of our analysis is to understand the institutional environment and structure underlying agricultural wastewater use. Considering that the practice lies within the irrigation sector, this sector is central for the analysis. We use the components identified in the Institutional Decomposition Analysis (IDA) framework, to describe institutional setup. In the IDA, the institutional environment is determined by, e.g., socio-economic, political, legal and physical conditions, while the institutional structure is composed of water law, water policy and water administration. Each of these are further decomposed to highlight important institutional aspects (Saleth 2004). The water law component includes, e.g., inter-governmental responsibility, water rights and accountability. The water policy component includes policies, users’ participation and privatization initiatives. Next, the organizational component includes the organizational framework, financing and management responsibilities, regulatory arrangements, and conflict resolution mechanisms (Saleth 2004). The IDA framework excludes the informal dimensions, such as customs and administrative traditions.

In a second step, this institutional structure is assessed, based on five generic characteristics that typify ‘good’ institutional outcomes: clear institutional objectives, interconnection with formal and informal institutions, adaptability, appropriateness of scale, and compliance capacity. They were proposed by Pagan (2009), built on New Institutional Economics and the concept of transaction costs. Figure 1 illustrates the analytical framework.

Figure 1

Analytical framework.

Figure 1

Analytical framework.

Data collection

The primary source of information was an extensive literature review, including policy documents and acts (e.g., Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Act 1989; AP Farmers Management of Irrigation Systems Act 1997; National Water Policy 2002 and 2012; AP State Water Policy 2008). Furthermore, the official websites of different institutions were consulted. The information was complemented with semi-structured interviews with officers of selected institutions and a questionnaire for farmers.

INSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENT

Physical, socio-economic context

Hyderabad is situated in the semi-arid region of the Deccan Plateau at 540 m above sea level. It is home to 6.8 million people (Census 2011). The average annual rainfall is between 700 and 800 mm during the monsoon season (June–October) (Buechler et al. 2002). The Musi is the main river, with a catchment area of 11,300 km2. It represents about 4% of the Krishna River basin. Traditionally, this river has provided farmers with irrigation water (Ensink et al. 2010).

As with many other cities in India, Hyderabad has experienced fast economic development. This has aggravated the deficiencies in public services. In 2005, the water supply–demand gap was estimated at 56% (van Rooijen et al. 2010). This is mainly due to an increasing population and the lack of water sources in the vicinity. New water sources are sought in locations up to 250 km away from the city (van Rooijen et al. 2010). The sanitation sector is no better off: only 62% of the city is connected to the sewerage network (Windrock-Int. 2006). Consequently, a large amount of wastewater is released into the river without treatment. This has serious implications for public health, and also for water bodies as they are becoming polluted.

Hyderabad generates about 1,000 million litres per day (MLD) of wastewater (Amerasinghe et al. 2009b). Currently, the main sewage treatment plants (STPs) have a capacity of 602 MLD; the additional capacity projected by 2024 is 556 MLD (STP Amberpet 2013). These STPs are part of the project, ‘Abatement of Pollution in River Musi’ (the National River Conservation Plan is an initiative of the Ministry of Environment to reduce contaminant loads in the river). Apart from this, there are about nine small STPs with a total capacity of 40.8 MLD (HMDA 2013). The preferred technological treatment process is the up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB; e.g., in Amberpet, Nallacheruvu and Nagole STPs). More advanced treatment processes, such as cyclic-activated sludge technology (C-Tech) are also found (e.g., in Attapur STP). STPs are considered the best option to cope with pollution in rivers. The disadvantage is, however, that they require high capital costs, and the operational and maintenance costs are also high (the budget to build STPs is equivalent to €39 million, for sewerage about €302 million (Anon 2006)).

About 90% of the wastewater generated in Hyderabad is used in agriculture downstream (see van Rooijen et al. (2005) for the estimation procedure) (van Rooijen et al. 2010). Such a high percentage of wastewater being reused is linked to the drainage system (almost entirely discharging in to the river) and the irrigation network (recovering most of the water) (van Rooijen et al. 2010). The wastewater is a mix of treated and untreated effluent, including urban and industrial effluents, and solid waste. The industries include: electroplating, cooking oil, lead extraction/battery units, pharmaceutical, leather, textile, paper, soap and jewellery (Buechler & Devi 2003). Farmers have no choice but to irrigate with polluted water. The irrigated area is about 12,000 ha. The crops grown include leafy vegetables, para-grass fodder (Brachiaria mutica) and paddy (Oryza sativa) (Devi 2006). The river has become perennial due to the city discharges, which has allowed famers to intensify irrigated production by growing crops year round, while in the past they were limited to the rainy season (Ensink et al. 2010).

The Musi River is a reliable source of irrigation, and supports the livelihood of around 150,000 people (Buechler et al. 2002). Irrigation with this water creates employment and income for poor communities, allows production of cash crops, and savings in the cost of fertilizer. The beneficiaries include: landowners, tenant farmers, labourers, transporters, vendors, brokers and consumers (Devi 2006). Nonetheless, it increases health risks (Ensink et al. 2010), for farmers, labourers and their families in direct contact with wastewater, as well as for consumers. Health risks include diseases caused by the presence of helminths, protozoa, bacteria and viruses (Amerasinghe et al. 2009a), and by heavy metals entering the food chain through plant uptake (Chary et al. 2008). The socio-economic impacts include: loss of work days due to bad health and expenses incurred by medication (Devi & Samad 2008). Next to the health risks, there are environmental risks from groundwater pollution and degradation of soils caused by heavy metals accumulated in the soil. Chary et al. (2008) found high concentrations of lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) in soils irrigated from the Musi River.

Legal context

There are no separate regulations or guidelines for the safe management and disposal of wastewater in India, nor for the agricultural use of wastewater. Various policies, environmental laws and constitutional provisions on sanitation and water pollution regulate wastewater management: the National Environment Policy (2006), the National Sanitation Policy (2008), Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules (1989), and municipalities and district acts. Pollution of water is prohibited by the Water Act (1974), by the Water Cess Act (1977) and by the Environment Act (1986) (Kaur et al. 2012).

INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE

Water policy

Water policy is the responsibility of the states with the central government advising by issuing a non-binding National Water Policy (NWP). This policy is translated for enforcement in State Water Policies. Each state is responsible for the planning, implementation, funding and management of water resources development (EBTC 2011). The NWP was revised in 2002 and 2012. The NWP-2002 adopted an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach, aiming for multi-sectoral planning according to hydrological units. The following priority ranking is given to water allocation: drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, ecology, agro-industries and non-agricultural industries, and navigation and other uses (Ministry of Water Resources 2002). Another key aspect was the adoption of the Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) approach.

Regarding water quality, the NWP-2002 recognizes the need to eliminate pollution from water bodies. Water treatment is required before discharge, and the polluter pays principle has been introduced (Ministry of Water Resources 2002). Nevertheless, this is not fully enforced, especially for the industrial sector, which is one the main polluters (Chigurupati & Manikonda 2007). Furthermore, the concept of reuse is acknowledged: ‘measures like (…), recycling and re-use of treated effluents (…) may be promoted (…) (Ministry of Water Resources 2002). This is further strengthened in NWP-2012, where it reads ‘recycle and reuse of water, including return flows, should be the general norm’ (Ministry of Water Resources 2012). Overall, more attention is paid to pollution issues in the most recent version of the NWP.

The NWP-2012 recognizes environmental and health hazards caused by pollution, as well as the importance of sanitation. It proposes the development of a third-party system for periodic inspection and punitive actions to be taken against polluters. It encourages reuse of grey water (effluents from kitchens and bathrooms), and gives incentives to industries for recovery of industrial pollutants. Recycling and reuse of water is to be incentivized through a properly planned tariff system (Ministry of Water Resources 2012). The policy, however, does not explicitly refer to reuse for agriculture. Nevertheless, the 10th Five-Year Plan of the central government identifies the need for research and development on technologies for the treatment of sewage and on health effects of sewage water irrigated agriculture (van Rooijen et al. 2010).

State water policy

In consonance with the NWP, AP has its own State Water Policy (SWP) issued in 2008. The policy mandates the state the responsibility for water provision for all sectors and prevention of water pollution. The AP government is responsible for irrigation infrastructure, as well as for the provision of drinking water to the entire population. Water and food security are priorities. The state adopted the PIM approach formulated at the national level. The SWP provides for conserving and protecting water bodies from pollution through regulation, as well as by enforcing the recycling of industrial effluents and wastewater for secondary uses (AP Gov 2008). Nevertheless, (re)use of wastewater for agricultural purposes is not specifically addressed.

The SWP gives second allocation priority to irrigation, which is the major water user in the state, taking about 67% of the available water (Jairath 2001). AP pursued a state-wide programme for the transfer of management responsibilities of canal irrigation, legally supported by law, to increase farmers’ acceptance of water charges to ensure cost recovery (Saleth 2004). Nevertheless, the level of collection of water fees is low and the state government continues to play a crucial role in the funding. Accordingly, financial returns to invest in irrigation continue to be poor (Jairath 2001).

Water law

Wastewater irrigation: an outlaw

The AP Water, Land and Trees Act (AP Gov 2002) and the AP Farmers' Management of Irrigation System Act (AP Gov 1997) regulate the use of water resources in AP. By law, farmers are organized in Water Users Associations (WUAs). Water rights and access from the canal system is linked to land rights, provided that a person in the command area has land rights, he/she is entitled to use water (AP Gov 1997). A planned scheme for agricultural wastewater reuse would logically follow the existing configuration. Nevertheless, some aspects, which may influence access, need to be considered: the supply from an STP, for instance would be limited in quantity, affecting the irrigable area (Palanisami 2013).

Following van der Hoek's (2004) typology, wastewater use in Hyderabad falls under the category of ‘indirect use’. This means that farmers use water from the river, which is polluted. It also falls under ‘unplanned reuse’, because rivers crossing cities become heavily polluted with wastewater, and therefore become de facto sewers (Asano 1998). (Asano (1998) defines the diversion of water from a river downstream of a wastewater discharge as an incidental or ‘unplanned’ reuse. Unplanned reuse normally implies indirect reuse.) Concerning the formal character of the practice, formal irrigation would refer to the presence of irrigation infrastructure or a certain level of permission and control from state agencies; in most cases, it would refer to a single point of abstraction (van der Hoek 2004), while the opposite would refer to informal use. Under this classification, our case would be classified as formal, because the water is running through infrastructure of an existing irrigation system managed by the Irrigation Department. However, the practice infringes what is stipulated in the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Act (1989) regarding sewage treatment and disposal, which establishes in section 65 that: ‘[…] no sewage shall be discharged into any water-course until it has been treated in such a manner as may be prescribed in the by-laws […]’ (AP Gov 1989). The authorities neither support the practice, nor recognize it (Amerasinghe et al. 2013); however, Musi water runs freely through the irrigation system. From this perspective, the practice is rather ‘informal’.

Water administration

Organizational framework and management responsibilities

Several players are involved in the sector. The central government, through the Ministry of Water Resources, supervises the planning and development of water resources from policy formulation to infrastructure support. National committees review policy issues and plan long-term development of the sector (Saleth 2004). The technical support for this ministry is the Central Water Commission, providing infrastructural, technical and research advice for water resources development at state level, and assessment of water resources (EBTC 2011). The Ministry of Agriculture promotes irrigated agriculture through the Department of Agriculture. Another important stakeholder is the Central Pollution Control Board, which is responsible for water quality monitoring, and for the preparation and implementation of action plans for pollution control (EBTC 2011). Drinking water and sanitation are the responsibility of state governments. However, the central government allocates funds and ensures that they are provided through Five-Year Plan budgets (Windrock-Int. 2006). In the irrigation sector, the states have transferred management responsibilities to WUAs, with clear responsibilities and powers. Nevertheless, some functions (e.g., the collection of fees) remain under the Irrigation Department (Reddy & Reddy 2006). Other important institutions are listed in Table 1.

Table 1

National level institutions related to water resources

Institutions Responsibilities 
Min. of Water Resources Planning, development of water resources, from policy formulation to infrastructure support 
Min. of Urban Development Urban drinking water provision and sanitation 
Min. of Agriculture Watershed development and irrigation 
Min. of Environment and Forests Water quality 
Central Pollution Control Board Water quality monitoring 
Min. of Rural Development Watershed development, drinking water provision 
Min. of Industry Industrial uses of water 
Min. of Power Hydropower development 
Indian Council of Agricultural Research Development of water management techniques 
Institutions Responsibilities 
Min. of Water Resources Planning, development of water resources, from policy formulation to infrastructure support 
Min. of Urban Development Urban drinking water provision and sanitation 
Min. of Agriculture Watershed development and irrigation 
Min. of Environment and Forests Water quality 
Central Pollution Control Board Water quality monitoring 
Min. of Rural Development Watershed development, drinking water provision 
Min. of Industry Industrial uses of water 
Min. of Power Hydropower development 
Indian Council of Agricultural Research Development of water management techniques 

Source:EBTC (2011).

Conflict resolution mechanisms

The NWP provides the general framework to solve inter-sectorial water allocation conflicts through the prioritization of water use (Saleth 2004). While the NWP-2002 was clear on that, the prioritization of water use is questioned in the latest version (Seth 2012). Conflict resolution mechanisms in India are still considered ‘ambiguous and opaque’ (Richards & Singh 2002). Water-related conflicts within a river basin or canal system, as well as conflicts between irrigation and water supply agencies are extensive due to the lack of proper forums for resolving differences. At local level, traditional and informal village level institutions, along with formal local institutions, such as Panchayat and WUAs are regarded as enablers for more effective and accessible conflict resolution mechanisms (Saleth 2005).

State and local level institutions

Amerasinghe et al. (2009a) identified the main institutions for wastewater irrigation planning in Hyderabad. Table 2 provides a summary of their functions and responsibilities.

Table 2

Functions and responsibilities of state and local level institutions

Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA): planning, coordination, supervision, promotion and development of Hyderabad metropolitan region, e.g., coordinates activities with municipal corporations, municipalities and other local authorities like HMWSSB (http://www.hmda.gov.in/). 
Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC): Provision of municipal services; regarding water, it manages some lakes (http://www.ghmc.gov.in/index.asp). 
Hyderabad Municipal Water Supply & Sewerage Board (HMWSSB): planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of water supply systems, sewage disposal and treatment works (http://www.hyderabadwater.gov.in/wwo/UI/about_us.aspx). 
Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB): Statutory authority entrusted to implement environmental laws and rules; responsible for environmental policies and frameworks for waste and natural resources management; design of programmes for prevention and control of pollution of water bodies; responsible for pollution standards and monitoring the quality of receiving waters resulting from discharge of effluents, for developing economical and reliable methods to treat effluents, and for designing methods to utilize effluents in agriculture; advising the State Government on these matters (http://www.appcb.ap.nic.in/aboutus/about_us.htm). 
Irrigation and Command Area Development Department (ICADD): supply of irrigation water and development of infrastructure; execution of engineering activities from investigation to final execution, and quality control of infrastructure (http://www.irrigation.ap.gov.in/index.html). 
Department of Agriculture: formulation and implementation of policies and programmes to achieve agricultural growth through optimum use of land, water, soil and plant resources; responsible for extension services for farmers and assessment of inputs (e.g., seeds, fertilizers, pesticides), soil testing, soil and water conservation, credit assessment, media production, monitoring and evaluation, disaster management, crop insurance, agricultural mechanization, etc. (http://agri.ap.nic.in/origin.htm). 
Panchayat Raj and Rural Development: planning, execution of programmes for rural development, improvement of the coverage and quality of infrastructure facilities in rural areas, provision of clean drinking water, and execution of minor irrigation and poverty alleviation programmes (http://www.aponline.gov.in/apportal/departments/PortalListofOrgsbyDepts.aspx?deptdesc=Panchayat%20Raj%20and%20Rural%20Development). 
Water Users Associations (WUAs): monitoring and distribution of water among farmers; involvement in management of irrigation systems (http://apcada.cgg.gov.in/josso/signon/apwua.html; http://apland.ap.nic.in/cclaweb/waterusers.htm). 
Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA): planning, coordination, supervision, promotion and development of Hyderabad metropolitan region, e.g., coordinates activities with municipal corporations, municipalities and other local authorities like HMWSSB (http://www.hmda.gov.in/). 
Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC): Provision of municipal services; regarding water, it manages some lakes (http://www.ghmc.gov.in/index.asp). 
Hyderabad Municipal Water Supply & Sewerage Board (HMWSSB): planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of water supply systems, sewage disposal and treatment works (http://www.hyderabadwater.gov.in/wwo/UI/about_us.aspx). 
Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB): Statutory authority entrusted to implement environmental laws and rules; responsible for environmental policies and frameworks for waste and natural resources management; design of programmes for prevention and control of pollution of water bodies; responsible for pollution standards and monitoring the quality of receiving waters resulting from discharge of effluents, for developing economical and reliable methods to treat effluents, and for designing methods to utilize effluents in agriculture; advising the State Government on these matters (http://www.appcb.ap.nic.in/aboutus/about_us.htm). 
Irrigation and Command Area Development Department (ICADD): supply of irrigation water and development of infrastructure; execution of engineering activities from investigation to final execution, and quality control of infrastructure (http://www.irrigation.ap.gov.in/index.html). 
Department of Agriculture: formulation and implementation of policies and programmes to achieve agricultural growth through optimum use of land, water, soil and plant resources; responsible for extension services for farmers and assessment of inputs (e.g., seeds, fertilizers, pesticides), soil testing, soil and water conservation, credit assessment, media production, monitoring and evaluation, disaster management, crop insurance, agricultural mechanization, etc. (http://agri.ap.nic.in/origin.htm). 
Panchayat Raj and Rural Development: planning, execution of programmes for rural development, improvement of the coverage and quality of infrastructure facilities in rural areas, provision of clean drinking water, and execution of minor irrigation and poverty alleviation programmes (http://www.aponline.gov.in/apportal/departments/PortalListofOrgsbyDepts.aspx?deptdesc=Panchayat%20Raj%20and%20Rural%20Development). 
Water Users Associations (WUAs): monitoring and distribution of water among farmers; involvement in management of irrigation systems (http://apcada.cgg.gov.in/josso/signon/apwua.html; http://apland.ap.nic.in/cclaweb/waterusers.htm). 

Source:Amerasinghe et al. (2009a). Websites accessed from 15 to 30 April 2013.

INSTITUTIONAL ASSESSMENT

Pagan (2009) identifies five generic institutional design characteristics of key importance (associated with successful management of resources) to evaluate water institutions. In this section, the institutional structure described above, is assessed based on these characteristics.

Institutional objectives

The objectives of the various institutions with respect to wastewater irrigation are rather unclear. The AP Irrigation Department, for instance, is responsible for irrigation water supply. However, it does not have the mandate to deal with ‘wastewater’. Provision of drinking water, sewage disposal and treatment for the metropolitan area is the responsibility of the Hyderabad Municipal Water Supply & Sewerage Board (HMWSSB). The latter should guarantee that sewage is discharged only after treatment, but this is not achieved in practice. The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) is responsible for the prevention and control of pollution of water bodies, and should ensure compliance with the regulation for environmental protection (APPCB 2009). Nevertheless, these responsibilities are not translated effectively in practice. Furthermore, the water quality criteria for irrigation water in AP, currently in force (see APPCB 2009), lags behind international guidelines such as from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). For instance, for coliform organisms contained in the water for irrigation, the former does not stipulate limits, whereas the latter suggests a maximum level of 1,000 FC/100 ml (Pescod 1992). In practice, the water used for irrigation is almost raw sewage.

Moreover, the Department of Agriculture, whose main objective is to achieve agricultural growth through the use of land and water, and to boost up agricultural production and productivity (AP Department of Agriculture 2014), is supposed to ensure the supply of quality inputs for agricultural production, yet it is unclear whether this includes the quality of water. As for other institutions, although stakeholders in practice, their objectives are not linked to wastewater irrigation. Clearly, wastewater irrigation lies somewhat in limbo in terms of the responsibilities of various institutions. This makes it problematic to identify the institutions exclusively responsible for ‘wastewater irrigation’. Based on usage, it should be the Irrigation Department, but management of pollution does not fall within their mandate of activities. Therefore, under current mandates, providing safe water for irrigation becomes the responsibility of multiple departments.

Interconnection with formal and informal institutions

To change the way a social system operates requires changes in formal and informal institutions (Pagan 2009). Informal institutions have a key role in society (North 1990). Cultural values significantly determine the internal values of an organization, and these values rule the organization (Ruys et al. 2000). Pagan (2009) argues that informal institutions determine or constrain the scope of actors with political power to alter the formal ruling institutions. Yet, direct control only exists over formal institutions. The link between formal and informal institutions is rather complex.

Wastewater irrigation in Hyderabad occurs and continues to thrive, despite the lack of formal institutional support. Farmers use polluted water to irrigate crops without any control, despite the risks (water quality improves downstream, see Ensink et al. (2010)). Both authorities and society are aware of this practice, including the possible risks. But to some extent, the practice is tolerated. It is important to acknowledge that the state government has initiated actions to reduce pollution in the river. The central government also recognizes the consequences of pollution in water and soil, and identifies as a major source of pollution the discharges of untreated wastewater. Nevertheless, the authorities remain unable to install sufficient infrastructure for the collection and disposal of wastewater, and to guarantee the quality of effluent from the city. Furthermore, the development of new infrastructure for STPs has been unable to keep pace with rapid urbanization and population growth.

Adaptiveness

‘Institutions associated with the management of natural resources need to be adaptive because of the inherent complexity of natural systems. […] institutions […] need adaptive capacity because changes in technology, and private and political tastes and preferences will generate pressures for institutional change’ (Pagan 2009). Adaptiveness allows continuing management despite complexity and uncertainty (Holling 1995). Pagan (2009) proposes that institutions that facilitate experimentation and innovation, support clear monitoring and review processes, and incorporate flexibility in how outcomes are achieved are likely to have lower transaction and transformation costs.

Hyderabad faces important challenges concerning pollution of rivers, with implications for farmers in terms of health and agricultural risks. The issue of irrigation with the Musi River has been a concern for over a decade, yet no institutional resolution to address this issue has been taken to date. Furthermore, institutions have not been able to implement policies, such as the ‘polluter pays’ principle, effectively. On paper, the policy is a step ahead regarding the reuse of water, as it recommends its implementation to be the ‘general norm’. But implementation remains weak. Based on this, the institutions involved clearly are still not adaptive enough.

Appropriateness of scale

Spatial (e.g., ecological, political, or social) and administrative scales (e.g., levels of government) upon which institutions are based are fundamental for their success (Dovers 2001). The establishment of groups around social boundaries is key to sustaining water management groups in the long-run (Curtis et al. 2002). This is because such scale reflects common informal institutional foundations. Both the administrative and spatial scale of a particular institution within an institutional hierarchy affect the transaction costs associated with management decisions, i.e., the more property rights are decentralized, the higher the transaction costs. Conversely, natural resource management institutions that have common social and ecological scales have lower transaction costs (Pagan 2009).

The development of irrigated agriculture in India based on Command Area Development Authorities, a top-down programme, failed to work in harmony with farmers (Crase & Gandhi 2009). The introduction of the IWRM framework and the PIM approach followed this development. The AP state government showed political will and introduced WUAs across the state; however, the results have been rather discouraging. Reddy & Reddy (2006) found that during the reform process, a significant amount of money was spent on improving irrigation systems rather than strengthening formal institutional structures, and that WUAs were not non-political institutions as they were meant to be. Instead, political involvement dominates their functioning. The experience throughout India is that farmers’ involvement in water management is not sustained (Crase & Gandhi 2009). Decentralization of powers such as assessment, collection of fees, sanctioning of works, do not take place; rather, they remain under the Irrigation Department (Reddy & Reddy 2006).

In the field work, farmers were asked about WUA membership; 97% of a total 118 farmers interviewed responded that they were not members of a WUA. Based on this figure, WUA membership in the study area is low. Regarding water rights, they remain connected to land rights. This would fall under the category of administrative allocation of water, in contrast with user-managed allocation and market allocation (Meinzen-Dick & Mendoza 1996). This type of allocation is valid for Musi water. It is rather centralized compared to user-managed and market-based allocation. As for the scale, this remains unclear.

Compliance capacity

Enforcement and compliance are key elements for institutions. The former to understand how to develop better institutions (although imperfection in enforcement exists in all kinds of institutions; North 2000). The latter, in designing long-lasting institutions (Ostrom 1993). Compliance capacity handles violations of contracts (Pagan 2009). Self-enforcement and third-party enforcement are the two forms of compliance mechanisms (Barzel 2000); key to enforcement is the ability to punish. The state has a comparative advantage in third-party enforcement, whereas self-enforcement is possible only where a positive value in keeping a contract exists for all parties involved. Compliance capacity gives an indication of the magnitude of the costs and features of institutional design (Pagan 2009). Pagan (2009) proposes the following to evaluate compliance capacity: (1) institutions that have high levels of internal enforcement support will have lower transaction costs when keeping a contract for its full duration is mutually beneficial; (2) institutions that have high levels of external enforcement support have lower transaction costs when keeping a contract disadvantages any party at any time during the life of a contract; and (3) external compliance measures that monitor indirect attributes based on specified production technology have higher transformation costs.

In reviewing the efforts of the national and state government, it is acknowledged that actions have been taken to improve water quality in the river. However, the emphasis is on development of STPs, while the enforcement of regulations lags behind. As to the farmers, they are not sanctioned when using low-quality water to irrigate crops. This reflects the low capacity compliance both from government and the farmers. Saleth (2005) is of the view that water-related acts protect the executives against the consequences of wrong-doing or non-implementation of policies, while no incentives exists for them to be accountable either to the government or to the users.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

Irrigation with wastewater in Hyderabad is indirect, unplanned and informal. The lack of formal recognition of this practice increases health and environmental risks. Current mandates do not consider formal wastewater irrigation. It is problematic to identify institutions responsible for this practice, because it falls under various domains of national and state institutions. Institutions seem to be detached from the practice, and accountability is poor. Unclear objectives, fragmentation among or within institutions (e.g., ill-functioning WUAs) seem to explain much of the current status. Furthermore, enforcement of regulations/policies is missing.

The NWP introduces the ‘recycle and reuse’ concept. This constitutes a major step for the reuse of wastewater to grow in importance across the country. At state level, however, authorities do not take concrete actions to implement this concept or to remediate issues of water pollution. The concept of formal and planned reuse of wastewater has not been fully explored either, and it seems that wastewater irrigation is not a priority for the institutions involved. Unresolved issues regarding laws and institutions, and the lack of appropriate institutional arrangements might explain this. It might also be that wastewater irrigation is affected by the same obstacles identified for the sanitation sector: a low priority in the domestic budget allocation or a lack of political will to mobilize resources (WSFF 2013). While sanitation is growing in importance in budgets, it fails to keep pace with the needs of a rapidly growing population. Past experiences show that by the time new infrastructure is in place, the projections have already been surpassed.

In line with Devi & Samad (2008), the absence of organizational capacity (to implement and monitor rules), the poor water and sewerage pricing system, and insufficient attention to environmental issues are the main factors behind the gap between formal and informal use of wastewater in Hyderabad. Considering that food production needs to be secured, and people and the environment protected, institutions should find common goals in order to enhance the benefits of wastewater irrigation, primarily that of increasing the availability of good quality water for the agricultural sector.

As recommendations, it is fundamental to increase awareness of water pollution and its consequences for public health and the environment. This needs to be translated into actions that would eventually lead to accountability from the authorities. Simultaneously, authorities should understand that irrigation with wastewater can no longer be ignored, and should turn this practice into a planned and controlled activity in order to guarantee quality of life for the people.

REFERENCES

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