Political economy of irrigation development and patterns of spatial inequalities across agro-climatic regions of Krishna district

This article is a systematic documentation and analysis of events that motivated development of irrigation in Madras Presidency in general and Krishna district in particular. In Krishna district, when the anicut was built in 1855, the phase-wise excavation of canals determined the phases of development of irrigation (1855-1900; 1900-1965 and 1965-2001) leading to three agro-climatic regions in the district viz., delta, moderate and dry regions (taluks). An analysis of impact of irrigation in terms of gross sown area, cropping intensity, extent of irrigation, type of irrigation and cropping pattern revealed that during the colonial period, the delta region had a clear cut edge over the moderate and dry regions. However, the gap diminished during the post-colonial period due to the commencement of new irrigation projects in moderate and dry regions that were sponsored by the state. The paper concludes that with a pro-active role of the state by focusing on the less developed regions with appropriate policies one can successfully bring down spatial inequalities across regions.