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

Anonymous said…
CWC is an organization of dictators, bootlickers and lazy fellows. They are enjoying their life. Dr Mihir Shah is disturbing their peaceful life by suggesting reformation. Even 1000 years, Government of India cannot overcome the vested interests and can never reform CWC.

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.

Online education 'driving' digital divide: $1.97 bn industry's paid users grow at 6x rate

Counterview Desk
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra, in a new report in the series on Lockdown on Civil Liberties focusing on education has said that there is a huge “push-out” children due during the pandemic, with deepening digital-divide playing a major role.