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Consolidating Authority: Bureaucratization of Local Resource Management Institutions in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Baker, J. Mark
Conference: Twenty-Sixth Annual Conference on South Asia
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Conf. Date: 1997
Date: 1997
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1912
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): resource management
local governance and politics
Abstract: "Kuhls are gravity flow irrigation systems prevalent throughout the hill districts of Himachal Pradesh. Kuhls have been managed informally for centuries under the supervision of locally appointed watermasters. However, since the early 1950s formal committees have emerged as a common form of kuhl management organization. Fourteen of the kuhls which divert water from the Neugal River in Kangra now have committees. These committees are remarkable for their structural similarity: each consists of a governing body of elected officers which includes a President, sometimes Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. Nominations and elections are usually held once a year. Most committees maintain a variety of written records. In this paper I address the following questions. What accounts for the recent emergence of these similar rational bureaucratic local organizations for water management? How do underlying social and ecological factors help account for the functional differences between structurally similar committees? Lastly, to what extent do they legitimize new forms of local authority and knowledge and thereby entail shifts in power from one group to another?"

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