Skip to main content

Modi govt "shelves" water reforms report, shows "no interest" in its recommendations

Mihir Shah
By Our Representative
Has the Government of India shelved the Mihir Shah committee report, which two years ago had recommended setting up an overarching National Water Commission (NWC) in order to build partnerships with independent experts and civil society groups for participatory management of water resources? It would seem so, if committee members and government officials participating in an international conference in Anand, Gujarat, are to be believed.
Organized by the high-profile Colombo-based International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in alliance with the Tata Water Policy Programme, and begun at the sprawling campus of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) campus in Anand, the three day conference is being held to discuss “innovations in water, land, energy and ecosystems” in order to build “climate resilience for doubling farmers’ incomes.”
Addressing media, Himanshu Kulkarni, one of the members of the Mihir Shah committee, which was appointed by the Narendra Modi government to come up with comprehensive solutions for the country’s water woes, regretted, “The Ministry of Water Resources has picked up merely some bits and pieces from the report. It is not showing interest in major reforms recommended in it. There is, in fact, no movement on the report ever since it was submitted in 2016.”
Earlier, making a presentation on the report at the conference, Kulkarni said, integrating CWC and Central Groundwater Board (CGWB) and forming NWC one one reason why CWC officials resisted its implementation. The report, according to him, sought changes in water bureaucracy of the Government of India, especially CWC, and sought involvement of local communities and taking up an inter-disciplinary approach to water-related issues, even as insisting on a decentralized approach.
Later, talking with Counterview, CWC officials participating in the conference admitted that the resistance to the report came “from within”, pointing out, while former minister Uma Bharati took lot of interest in its recommendations, after she was removed from the ministry, the new minister, Nitin Gadkari, takes “no interest”. “It is as good as shelved”, one of them said, requesting anonymity, adding, “Shah was an important member of the erstwhile Planning Commission. We were surprised when the committee was set up under his chairmanship.”
The official said, the biggest grouse with the report has been against its recommendation to restructure CWC into a “brand new” multi-disciplinary NWC, to be headed by “an administrator with strong background in public and development administration”. Under the reformed structure, regional NWC offices were to be set up, even as forging partnership with world class institutions, eminent experts and voluntary organisations in the water management field.
The 150-page document, submitted to the government in July, does not say “no” to the construction of dams but asserts that it must happen in a “reform” mode so that whatever water is stored in reservoirs reaches the farmers’ fields. At the same time, the focus should be on the completion of ongoing projects, management of the potential created so far and community participation for integrated irrigation management transfer.
The report stated, the mandate of CWC and CGWB belonged to “an old era when dam construction and tube well drilling was the prime need of the hour,’’ insisting, CWC lacked “expertise” in water utilisation, environmental and socio-economic issues and in efficient irrigation management to “deal with challenges of droughts, floods, climate change and food and water security.”
Those who were sought to be made part of NWC included full-time commissioners representing hydrology, hydrogeology, hydrometeorology, river ecology, ecological economics, agronomy and participatory resource planning and management. Though NWC was to be an adjunct body to the ministry, at the same time it was to remain “autonomous and accountable”.
Even as saying that CWC was not equipped to undertake radical reforms, the report suggested that simply by completing ongoing projects, an irrigation potential of 7.9 million hectares (mha) can be created and by prioritising investments in command area development and water management, an additional 10 mha can be achieved. Undertaking extension, renovation and modernisation of abandoned works can restore another 2.2 mha of irrigation potential.

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

Opposition refuses to legally challenge EVMs amidst plans of "back to ballot" protest

Counterview Desk
Even as opposition to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) allegedly to rig polls is growing, a group of prominent citizens who have come together to form the EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan has controversially called for a national protest against EVMs on May 30, demanding future elections should be held only on ballot paper.

When a Pak scribe said Modi has 'proved' Jinnah’s two nation theory right...

By Zafar Agha*
It was around nine in the morning on May 24, 2019, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed the Lok Sabha with 300-plus MPs. It was a call from a journalist friend, Muzamal Suhrawardy, from Lahore, Pakistan. I ignored the call. We liberals had a depressing day the previous evening as the opposition to Modi and BJP collapsed. The results belied reports from the ground and even assessments made by colleagues.

It's now official: Akshay Kumar has not been conferred honorary Canadian citizenship

By Our Representative
It is now official. Super-star Akshay Kumar has not been conferred any honorary citizenship by Canadian authorities, as claimed by him ahead of the 2019 elections. In reply to a query by Roshan Shah, who is a Canadian citizen living in Waterloo, Ontario, and belongs to Ahmedabad, the country’s authorities dealing with issues related with immigration, refugees and citizenship in Canada have said that only six persons have so far been granted honorary citizenship.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

If EC's credibility is under question, shouldn't one "assume" EVMs might be tampered?

Counterview Desk
Gauhar Raza, scientist, documentary film maker and poet; senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi of the Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD); military veteran Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury (retd); and Sucheta De and Sandeep Saurav of the All India Students' Association (AISA), have asked “individuals, organisations and people's movements” to send their endorsement to an appeal they have prepared on Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

Govt of India overestimated GDP by 2.5%, must restore reputational damage: Ex-CEA

By Rajiv Shah
Top economist Arvind Subramanian has said that changes brought about by the Government of India in data sources and methodology for estimating the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 “has led to a significant overestimation of growth”. While official estimates place annual average GDP growth between 2011-12 and 2016-17 at about 7 percent, the actual growth may have been 4½ percent, ranging from 3 ½ to 5 ½ percent during the period, he adds.

Common thread of Modi, political Hinduism, nationalism? 'Contest' of ideas isn't over

By Salman Khurshid*
Losing the 2019 election and that too in a somewhat extreme manner has confronted us with unexpected challenges: Our leadership has naturally taken it very hard and to heart but with suggested options that we cannot imagine or contemplate. Hopefully the emotions will settle soon and give us the direction to pick up the pieces and march again.

Will minorities in India be 2nd class citizens? Wake up call: Be a 'communicating' Church

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
India today is at a defining moment of her history. There is so much that has taken place in the past five years (and particularly in the last ten days)- that several citizens of the country are genuinely concerned about the future of the country! Will democracy survive? Will key elements of the Constitution be changed?