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The global and regional availability of water, remains constant more or less over long period of time, but for seasonal variations. It was access to water that limited the spread of human settlements in earlier times. The simple indigenous interventions were first used a few centuries back to cause diversion of small quantities of water from its natural flow path to nearby areas and thus allowing new areas to be settled and cultivated. The next level of engineering interventions permitted the storage of large quantities of water and its diversion from “water surplus” area to “water deficit” areas. More complex technological advances led to diversion of water farther afield and to cover larger areas. This created a new regime and rights of water ownership as a new group of population got access to water that was hitherto unavailable to them. Economic growth and the more water-intense lifestyles increased the pressure on the per capita water availability causing a worldwide search for more efficient means of using and governing water. New types of institutional structure and hitherto unknown policies were created for efficient management of water. New conflict resolution mechanisms, regulatory authorities and statutory provisions emerged to establish an equitable and efficient system of water management. These organisations, guidelines and enactments created a need for information on the status of water availability and usage. In fact, the ownership of information about water emerged as a new asset. Information about water requires to be demystified to create an equitable regime, allowing unrestricted access to water that is primarily a basic human need for survival, rather than an economic commodity traded for profit.
The famous quote “Knowledge is power” attributed to the sixteenth-century lawyer and philosopher Francis Bacon cannot be more relevant than it is today, the age of global information liberation. Information technology and the means of communication have made it easier to compile, analyse and disseminate information through various forms (maps, tables, documents, and so on) and through various means (e-mails, web pages, social networking, mobile technology, and so on). Information technology has revolutionised the way we think, interpret and present ourselves, primarily because of the ease in acquiring information and the means of its quick analysis. The raw primary data lying in tables can easily be converted to systematic information through a basic spreadsheet, that in turn can be interpreted to create knowledge. Modern day information technology tools make it possible to store vast amounts of data and to dig out the spatial and temporal trends from these data warehouses to be used as a decision-support system by a planner or an executive. Continuous research and application of technology has provided the potent means of visual interpretation and presentation of information that creates a quick and long-lasting impact on human memory.
The present and first edition of this atlas is an attempt to analyse the existing data from the public domain of several government organisations and present the data through visually appealing maps and other visually attractive forms to show the spatial and temporal distribution of the water available and the way it is used, to act as a quick guide and a decision-support system. Mr. B. P. R. Vithal, the then Secretary (Finance & Planning) Government of A.P. pioneered the conversion of raw data into graphics and maps for visual interpretation for decision-support and developmental plannning in governement during the seventies.
The atlas has relied wholly on the publicly available data from various state and central government organisations. Therefore it turned out to be a challenging task to access consistent data and we have had to use data from different years for different chapters. Considering the normal time lag for the latest information to be available, the data for the year 2007-08 has been taken as a common denominator, as far as possible, for the present atlas. One of the key themes running across the atlas is the dynamics of spatial and temporal trends, and wherever possible indicating areas where water usage can be enhanced, for water is a precious resource and spells life.
The chapters are arranged in a sequence for ease of navigation and grouped in four parts.
Part I highlights the country-level status and thereby the status of Andhra Pradesh compared to other states in India. The themes covered in Chapter 1 are physiography, climate, irrigation characteristics, cropping pattern, population and land. This chapter also provides a multivariate analysis of irrigation sources and the level of irrigation to create an irrigation profile of the districts in India.
Part II deals with water per se. Chapter 2, the opening chapter of this part, deals with the climate of Andhra Pradesh highlighting the rainfall distribution and the latest trends in its seasonality. One immediately visible pattern is the shift in peak rainfall period from July to August.
Chapter 3 deals with the physiography and land-use characteristics of Andhra Pradesh. The land-use characteristics are derived from remotely sensed images and interpreted by Andhra Pradesh State Remote Sensing Application Centre (APSRAC). The original classification by APSRAC categorises land use in 66 classes. For the convenience of understanding we regrouped the categories to the present 11 classes to highlight the major types of land use generally desired by planners and academics.
Chapter 4 provides sub-basin wide availability of water and the sub-basin map with drainage pattern. All the 81 sub-basins are covered and presented with the ground and surface water quantity through a table. The analysis of per hectare water availability across the basins provides a deeper understanding of the socio-economic status of the region. We are showing two maps that measure the risks associated with the overexploitation of ground water. The initial calculation is done by the Department of Ground Water at the assessment unit (micro-basin) for compatibility with hydro-geological units, and converted at mandal level for easy correlation with the basic administrative unit. The Department of Ground Water and the Chief Engineer, Hydrology, regularly assess the water quality of the ground water and surface water of irrigation projects respectively. Geographical spread of the poor water-quality areas is also included to highlight health and other risks.
Chapter 5 deals with Floods and Droughts. Mapping and listing the tanks that affect the railway tracks is a unique feature of this chapter. Some readers will probably recall the unfortunate incident of a passenger train washed in flash floods caused by a series of breaches in tanks. The design standards of such tanks were revised to accommodate a higher inflow of flood waters to reduce the risk of such incidents recurring. Maps of areas prone to drought (based on moisture stress) is derived from the Government of India’s notification of drought-prone blocks.
Part III covers water usage. Irrigation dominates this segment as about 93% of the total water is used for irrigation. The remaining is used for drinking and domestic purposes and industries. Chapter 6 on Irrigated Areas highlights that irrigation by surface and ground water are equally important. Irrigation via tanks has been declining continuously for about five decades. The efforts of government, since about 2004-05, to revive the traditional system of community-based tank management are slowly seeing a reversal of this trend. The massive and unprecedented programme by the government of Andhra Pradesh to create irrigation infrastructure to irrigate an estimated 4 million ha area additionally will use up the entire remaining water yield. Ground water usage exceeding the annual dynamic recharge in certain areas, particularly non-command areas, has reached non-sustainability with likely adverse impact on the livelihood of dependent farmers. The demand from the hydropower sector is also putting pressure on the water allocated for irrigation during the water-deficit years.
Chapter 7 on Irrigated Agriculture deals with the major crops raised under surface and ground water in the kharif and rabi seasons in Andhra Pradesh. Paddy still dominates irrigated agriculture but the percentage of area covered under paddy is giving way to maize and cotton. At the micro level the area under fruit and vegetable is gradually increasing. The current level of foodgrain production is about 200 lakh tonnes which is almost equal to the production of horticulture crops. About 30-40% of horticultural crops is damaged during post-harvest handling because of poor management. The subsidy provision of micro irrigation under National Horticulture Mission has benefitted the drier districts immensely. Mahbubnagar and Anantapur account for more than 25% of state-level coverage of about 500,000 ha so far. The gains of productivity and better water management have pushed up the income from agriculture significantly in Anantapur. The chapter also presents the synthesis of types of irrigation with crops raised to highlight the symbiotic relationship with each other.
Chapter 8 on Water and Livelihood is an analytical proposition beyond the traditional domains of an atlas. Nonetheless, the compelling degree of correlation between the water available and the various outcome indicators of poverty was too obvious to be overlooked. The chapter presents the natural availability of water per hectare and the coverage through irrigation as resource endowment. The population density and occupation are the response to the availability of water, naturally or artificially. The result is the ownership of assets and expenditure on education. The chapter also presents three typologies. First one shows the evolution of literacy rate, sex ratio in education and the level of drop-outs in schools. The second shows the relationship between availability of water with poverty, social deprivation, and low literacy. The third one proposes to derive the trends and risks from water use and its sustainability.
Part IV of the atlas looks to the future of water and puts forward suggestions for ways to conserve this resource and use it with greater efficiency. The Food and Agriculture Organisation has calculated that an increase of 34% in irrigated area is possible with a 12% increase in water consumption. UNESCO highlighted that the water crisis is mainly “a crisis of governance”. Our future will be decided by the way we manage our water. This chapter is a chronicle of the efforts of the Irrigation Department of the Government of Andhra Pradesh towards better water management. This effort has led to a gradual evolution of a participatory protocol for irrigation project management for greater water-use efficiency and production of more grain per drop of water. The protocol is a cyclical seasonal planning tool for self evaluation of the previous season’s performance, and is now adopted by about 2400 farmers’ organisations falling under 17 major irrigation projects covering about 2,829,017 ha. These farmers’ organisations review the bottlenecks and look for solutions to clear these and improve water-use efficiency and draw a seasonal action plan for improved performance. This last part IV has 13 chapters highlighting water management in the major irrigation projects in Andhra Pradesh.
Among the various decisions related to the layout and design of the atlas, an initial and probably the most critical was about the size of this atlas. We brainstormed and attempted several possible layouts. But consensus on a convincing layout eluded us. At this stage that Anne looked for a natural pattern in the physical shape of Andhra Pradesh, a la Leonardo da Vinci who could see patterns in any natural phenomenon. The almost equal east-to-west and north-to-south expanse of Andhra Pradesh bestows it with a square shape, bifurcated along its diagonal. This appreciation of square based natural shape of Andhra Pradesh eliminated the competing choices and we were left with the atlas’ present square shape: a size that may be a bit unusual for paper traders but that is the way Andhra Pradesh is.
Each sheet sometimes contain many maps and each of the map is the final output of the data, in some instances from many sources. Crediting each source on each map would not only appear repetitive but would have interfered with legibility. Therefore a comprehensive list of source of data is appended to the atlas. The entire data set used for preparing the maps and graphs is collected from the public domain, largely the websites of numerous organisations. Modern-day technology made it possible to access the data conveniently. We do sincerely expect that the atlas will prove to be a useful tool in decision-support for planning processes, information dissemination and knowledge creation. This being a “first of its type” effort to compile a water atlas for a state, errors may be many providing scope for substantial improvement. We take sole responsibility for the errors and request those with discerning eyes to inform us of these. We welcome any comments, suggestions and critique.
Finally and most importantly, the genesis of this atlas stems from our firm belief that the access to information and its flow should be unrestricted and free from all artificial barriers. We also believe that what we know today about nature and its complexity is insignificant in comparison to what we do not know about it. The barriers to access to information fetter the creativity of the mind and thus place limits to the creation of knowledge. Today’s analysis will assist in the development of tools that will act as exploratory instruments for the future. Let information not be converted into a tradable commodity. This philosophy is also shared by our research partner, International Water Management Institute. And that is why we have not priced this volume and made it freely available, so as to provide wide access to the knowledge-community.
Satya Prakash Tucker
Hyderabad, April 2011