Besides the analysis of technical and ecological viability, knowledge of the existing land tenure systems is an essential pre-requisite for the success of watershed projects and policy reforms required for their effective implementation. Using descriptive analysis, Lorenz curve and Gini concentration ratio (GCR), this study has explained the relationship between the existing land tenure systems and the prospects for the success of watershed projects in the Meghalaya State, North-East India. The study has revealed that the Umsiang watershed project having community ownership system of tenure produced more positive changes in the landuse pattern after the project implementation than the Maweit watershed project practising individual ownership system. The area under jhum cultivation in the Umsiang watershed decreased significantly due to transformation of jhum sloppy lands into permanent contour cultivation. The area under horticulture plantations particularly fruit crops increased by 2118 per cent; afforested and aquaculture areas also increased by 296 and 2480 per cent, respectively after the project. The area under jhum cultivation in the Maweit watershed decreased only marginally (by 2%) and the area under permanent contour cultivation was negligible after the project. The absence of ownership rights to the tenants in the Maweit watershed has resulted in little incentive for the adoption of long-term development measures. The annual average income per household increased to Rs 40,227 (36% increase) in the Umsiang watershed and to Rs 36,313 (19% increase) in the Maweit watershed after the project. The offfarm income went up by 49 per cent in the Umsiang watershed and 38 per cent in the Maweit watershed. The watershed projects under the Community ownership system of land tenure would be more successful in increasing farm income and employment opportunities. The income inequality also decreased in the Umsiang watershed after the project as shown by Lorenz curve and GCR. But the gap between the rich and the poor in the Maweit watershed increased after the project. The study has clearly indicated that land tenure system is an important factor in the implementation of watershed projects successfully. Effective land reform policy would be essential for the successful implementation of watershed development programmes.


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