The new Tank Institutions of the Cauvery Delta
Raad, D.J. de
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In the theoretical context of common pool resource literature, this thesis focuses on questions of how sustainable and equitable management of tanks as common pool resources (CPRs) are shaped, by both bureaucratic and socially embedded institutions, in the Cauvery Delta, Tamil Nadu, India. Tanks are lake like structures with various uses, and institutional arrangements to govern them. In recent years there has been a reappraisal of tanks, as a means of storage, percolation and insurance against droughts and floods. Both government and socially embedded organizations, initiated rehabilitation schemes, introducing new institutions in tank settings. This research focused on the implications of the introduction of these rehabilitation schemes on the development of institutional arrangements in tank settings. This was done through two extensive case studies of tank settings in which rehabilitation took place. These findings were supported by interviews with experts and members of socially embedded organizations and finally the review of relevant literature on the topic, region, and the historical development of tanks. The results of this study indicated that the effect of schemes by bureaucratic and socially embedded institutions for sustainability and equitability in local settings are mixed. Sustainability for the productivity of the resource is questionable and schemes gloss over inequities. The findings shed light on the institutional plurality and complexity of institutions in tank settings. Actors with multiple identities mobilize various arrangements to legitimize and change their rights to water. Institutions are altered and adapted in local settings through relationships of power among subjects, creating both intended and unintended outcomes. I argue for the inclusion of multiple uses and the consideration of ideological and cultural identities that underpin claims for non-subtractive rights to water, to inform institutional analysis, through the method of institutional bricolage. This supports comprehensive analysis of institutional arrangements in CPR settings, towards better adjusted policies, and sustainable and equitable CPRs.