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#Yojana Nector – Water (July 2016)!!!

1. INCREASING ENVIRONMENTAL DEBT-

The unpaid ecosystem services of the environment (e.g., pollution assimilation) as a factor of production and the depletion and degradation of some natural resources (like air, water and soil pollution) are not accounted into the present System of National Accounts(SNA); as a result it is difficult to understand the actual ENVIRONMENTAL DEBT (“Environmental debt refers to the accumulation of past environmental impacts of natural resource depletion and environmental degradation, owed to future generations) of Indian economy. In other words, the contribution of natural resources like water (both depletion and degradation) in GDP is not accounted and hence, it could limit the potential to achieve high economic growth in the long run (by posing constraints on availability of water and/or various ecosystem services) and/or economic development (by imposing costs (public health) on society in terms of water pollution).

2. THE VULNERABILITIES OF CLIMATE CHANGE

A recent World Bank report confirms that climate change will increase water-related shocks on top of already demanding trends in water use. Estimates indicate that around 4 billion people or two-thirds of the world’s population face severe water shortage for at least one month every year Of this one fourth (1 billion people) live in India, whereas half a billion people in the world face severe water scarcity throughout the year. Of this half a billion people, 180 million people live in India.

3. INCREASING GLOBAL DEMAND

According to the UN, food output must grow by 60 per cent to feed a population of nine billion or more in 2050. Production of food requires considerable inputs of energy and water, raising challenges of conflicting demands. But by 2030, the world will have to confront a water supply shortage of 40 per cent. Agriculture already accounts for approximately 70 per cent of global freshwater withdrawals and is perceived as one of the main factors behind the increasing global scarcity of freshwater.

A snapshot of the 2016 water crisis in India is given below:

1. One third of India’s districts are affected by severe drought, affecting some 33 crore people in 256 districts in 10 States.

2. Water wagons from Miraj in Western Maharashtra are serving the dry regions of Latur. As a preventive measure against riots, people gathering near water sources are banned. Five people are allowed at wells and public storage tanks till the monsoons arrive.

3. The Bundelkhand districts across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh continue to reel under the third drought in a row. Almost 50 per cent of its water sources have dried up. Agriculture has failed, leading to mass migration, poverty and hunger. Four major reservoirs that supply water to Hyderabad city have dried up.

4. Shimla, Himachal Pradesh is an example of a hill town facing acute water shortages and Jaundice outbreak due to contaminated water supply.

5. Industrial shutdowns l Tajola, an industrial township is cutting production for two consecutive days in a week. Here, 60-70 per cent units are from water intensive sectors such as fertilisers, chemicals, pharma, food and beverages and metals. Around 13 sugar mills in Sholapur and Marathwada in Maharashtra have shut down. Textile industries and dyeing factories are shutting down production during water cuts. Power production was disrupted in Farakka, West Bengal due to water shortage.

The first step in water management would involve taking comprehensive, consistent and constant campaigns to re-establish the relationship between people and water. Farmers can make medbandhis (boundaries around their field) on their field so that the rainwater can be conserved. A small recharge pit should also be dug to capture the rain. Dugwells should be cleaned and ready to welcome the rains.

1. CREATION OF A ‘WATER BANK’

These will require detailed planning and funds, but the task is doable. India is blessed with an annual average rainfall of 1,100 mm, most of which falls in around 100 hours. This primary source of water must be captured either for direct use, or for recharge of groundwater aquifers and surface water bodies. Funds allotted for MGNREGA must be directed towards reviving and creating water conservation structures. There is a need to facilitate smooth and swift transfer of funds to the villagers which is now a Supreme Court order as well. MPLAD and other government funding can be used. Every region of India has had traditional water harvesting systems suited to the region, which must be revived at scale. These models can be tested, replicated and modified if required to suit contemporary needs.

Artificial groundwater recharge: subsurface water banks

Since the open land mass is declining, especially in urban areas, artificial recharge at scale can greatly help in alleviating water scarcity, reduce flooding and improving water quality.

Artificial groundwater recharge is the infiltration of surface water into shallow aquifers to (a) increase the quantity of water in the subsurface

(b) Improve its quality by natural attenuation processes.

It can be practiced in river valleys and sedimentary plains by infiltrating river or lake water into shallow sand and gravel layers. Water can be infiltrated into aquifers through basins, pipes, ditches and wells

Advantages

  • Natural processes reduce the contamination of infiltrated river water.

  • Infiltration also allows for better water management as the level of water between the river and groundwater aquifer can be manipulated during periods of low and high river water discharge. Over time, a balance is struck between the river and the aquifer, allowing for water availability throughout the year. The Palla floodwater recharge that has been initiated by the Delhi Jal Board is one such example

  • Generally, artificially recharged groundwater is better protected against pollution than surface water, and the delimitation of water protection zones makes it safer.

  • If done at larger scale, the volume of water that can be saved is enormous. While there are environmental, financial and social issues in constructing artificial storage spaces such as dams, recharging groundwater aquifers is a ‘natural’ choice. Artificial recharge, thus, offers a tremendous potential.

2.WATER CONSERVATION : Sectorial approaches

Agriculture

 Issues- low efficiency in water use – 38-40 per cent for canal irrigation and 60 per cent for groundwater irrigation schemes; declining water availability; increasing food demand due to population increase; changing food habits; commitments under RTF (Right to Food); and, competitive  demands over water.

a) Climate smart agriculture

b) Adopting Micro Irrigation (MI) and precision irrigation practices:  Drip and sprinkler irrigation helps in savings between 40-80 per cent of water. Irrigation methods such as irrigation scheduling, tillage, mulching and fertilisation can increase the transpiration component of evapotranspiration which results in higher utilisation of water by crops, enhancing their productivity.(Irrigation based on water / fertilizer production function curves.)

c) Land and water management practices: These include integrated practices such as soil-water conservation, adequate land preparation for crop establishment, rainwater harvesting, efficient recycling of agricultural wastewater, conservation tillage to increase water infiltration, reduce run off and improve soil moisture storage.

d) Laser leveling: This technique removes unevenness of the soil surface, having significant impact on the germination, stand and yield of crops. It can save around 20-30 per cent of water and enhance outputs by at minimum 10 per cent.

e) System of Rice Intensification (SRI):SRI is well known for reducing water requirement by around 29 per cent and the growth duration by 8-12 days and increasing the yield by about ¾ tons/Ha resulting in increased water productivity of rice. This technology is also useful for sugarcane cultivation.

f) Extension activities:Training farmers and extension officers in water management and Conducting seminars/workshops in villages to bring awareness among all farmers for safe water and to increase yield.Extension offices in water management should be created in the block level as in the case of agronomy, plant protections, etc.

Industry

Companies are eager to reduce their water footprint, get certified for their water responsive behavior and products.

Some of the options before the industry are given below.

a) Increasing water efficiency- Some of the methods that can reduce water footprint include, change in technology from water cooling to air cooling, replacing of water intensive equipment and fixtures, waste water recycling and reuse into industrial process, and rainwater harvesting and its use.

b) Life cycle analysis:Life cycle analysis can help to assess the environmental impact associated with the various stages of a product’s life right from the cradle to the grave (from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance and disposal).

For obtaining Cradle to cradle (C2C) certification, there is a need to meet special criteria for water. Water Stewardship as a part of the Cradle to Cradle certification requires actions that not only improve the water footprint in industrial processes and supply chain, but also in the ecosystem where the industry is operating. There are five levels – Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum, with industries meeting better water standards at each level.

c) Supply chain water management and taking responsibility- For instance, H&M in partnership with WWF has established pillars of water management which include: developing training materials that would inform the design and sourcing team about water related impacts of producing fashion and raw materials respectively; identifying possibilities of saving water at company owned facilities; working with stakeholders such as local and regional Governments, NGOs and other companies for better water management of river basins in China and Bangladesh; and, educating customers on the significance of water management.

d) Water offset- For situations where water consumption cannot be reduced through efficiency improvements, water reuse or recycling, ‘water offsets’ investments to watersheds are adopted. Adoption of water offset would typically involve planting trees or investing in efficiency measures in far off lands.

Cross country community efforts

In drought hit Bundlekhand, Parmarth, a civil society organisation is supporting resilience amongst the drought affected families through development of more than 100 drought risk reduction plans, rainwater conservation and establishing community and institutional linkages. Jal Sahelis (friends of water) are managing in-village water supply and water conservation efforts.

Under Andhra Pradesh Farmer Managed Groundwater Systems(APFAMGS) project implemented in 7 drought prone districts of AP, farmers are managing their groundwater systems and have adopted suitable agricultural options.

In 2002, drought hit Raj Samadhiyala village in Gujarat, managed to take up three crops a year using the rainwater harvested through the construction of farm ponds, percolation tanks, check dams and sub-surface structures.

Drought prone Laporiya village in Rajasthan has a unique dyke system called the ‘chauka’ to capture rainwater, improving water availability for drinking and harvest.

As per official estimates, irrigation potential in the country is 139.9 million hectares. It is expected that 54 per cent of it would be realized from surface irrigation and remaining 46 per cent from groundwater sources. The maximum contribution to irrigated area is of tubewells at 61.7per cent, followed by canals at 26.3 per cent; other sources at 9.3 per cent and tanks at 2.59 per cent respectively.

Evidences suggests that

  1. In terms of total expenditure, the public investment in irrigation and flood control fell from 6.9 per cent to 4.2 per cent over this period (1980-2010).

  2. There is a sharp drop in the marginal effect of public expenditure in irrigation on agricultural productivity. In contrast, returns from investment in tubewells, which are privately owned, are four times higher. the ratio of irrigation potential created from minor irrigation is much higher than that from medium and large irrigation projects. 2/3rd of total investment is done foe major irrigation projects but 2/3rd of the areas is irrigated by the minor and medium projects.

Way forward

  • Strategize fiscal policy by reallocating resources from major-medium irrigation to minor and micro irrigation, wherever feasible. However, among others, high initial capital cost, suitability of designs to different soil conditions, problems in receiving subsidy and small holdings are reportedly affecting the wide spread adoption of this technology.

  • Install meters to measure power consumption, and also canal waters, and then incentivise farmers to save their consumption by rewarding them with monetary value. Replacement of inefficient pump sets by more energy efficient ones which would save power by almost 30 per cent.

  • Telangana has embarked upon a major project “KAKATIYA” under which, water harvesting and management is taking place through revival of traditional tanks and lakes. India’s partnership with Israel to learn and adopt innovative strategies to harness rain water during the recently organized ‘India Water Week, 2016’ is another useful step in this direction.

Water Resources

The available water is sufficient even if the population of the world is increased to 25 billion (i.e 3 to 4 times of the present population). In India, the total available water is sufficient for a population of 1650 million (1500m3 / per capita/ year)

1. SURFACE WATER- The entire country has been divided into 20 basins; comprising of 12 major basins having a catchment area of 20,000 km2 and the remaining 8 basins are medium and small. According to Central Water Commission, the utilizable water resources in all the 20 basins is 69 Million hectare meter (MHM or Mha) which is about 35 per cent of the total surface water. This water will meet irrigation needs for a cropped area of 76 MHa.

2. GROUND WATER- The utilizable ground water had been assessed as 39.56 MHM (7 MHM for domestic and industrial uses and 32.56 MHM for irrigation) which can irrigate about 64 MHa. The total irrigation is about 140 M.Ha (SW=76 M.Ha, & G.W = 64 MHa).

• There are about 45000 large dams in the world, of which, 46 per cent are in China, 14 per cent are in USA and only 9 per cent in India.

• If the entire surface water and ground water available in the country is taken into account i.e. 238.50 MHM for the physical population of 1650 million in 2050, the per capita availability of water per year comes to 1450 M3 which is less than 1700 and this indicates water shortage-the country will face water stress condition according to World bank / U.N norms.

• If the utilizable water alone is taken into consideration (108.60 MHM) for the projected population of 1650 million in 2050, per capita water is 680 M3 which is less than 1000m3/P/Y which indicates that the country will face severe water scarcity and severe constraint on food production and economic development.

General circulation models or global climate models (GCMs) that represent physical and chemical processes in the atmosphere, Cryosphere, land surface, and ocean are the most advanced tools to simulate the response of the global climate system to rising concentrations of GHGs. Although, GCMs are very complex, only these models can provide physically consistent estimates of regional climate change that are required in impact analysis.

• GCMs represent the climate using a 3-dimensional grid over the earth, which typically has horizontal resolution between 250 and 600 km, 10 to 20 vertical layers in the atmosphere and about 30 layers in the oceans. Their resolution is thus, quite coarse relative to the scale at which data are required in most impact assessments.

• In climate change studies, the time scales could vary from a short time interval of 5 minutes (for urban water cycle) to a year. Likewise, the spatial resolutions could vary from a few square kilometers (for urban watersheds) to several thousand square kilometers (for large river basins).

• Instead, their properties are averaged over the larger scale by way of parameterization. Different GCMs may simulate quite different responses to the same input forcing depending on the way certain processes and feedbacks are modelled. For example, some models are able to closely simulate the Indian summer monsoon rainfall but many models cannot.

• Results of GCM simulations are available as time series of climatic variables. For example, hydrologists may be interested in the time series of temperature at a location for the period 2025-2075.

To identify the likely impacts of Climate Change on water resources, the following methodology can be followed:

• Select the GCM that closely simulates the climatic variables for the region of interest.

• Downscale (see below) the relevant GCM variables as per the requirement of the chosen hydrologic model.

• Use the hydrologic model to simulate the response of the catchment under future climatic conditions.

• Outputs from the hydrological models serve as inputs to water management models that can be employed for river planning, updating reservoir operation policy, etc.

According to IPCC, adaptation to climate change refers to adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities. Adaptation can be of different types.

• Anticipatory or proactive adaptation takes place before impacts of climate change are observed.

• Adaptation that is not in response to climatic inputs but is triggered by changes in natural systems and by market or welfare changes in human systems is called as autonomous or spontaneous adaptation.

IPCC defines mitigation as: “An anthropogenic intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases (GHG).” Related to CC, mitigation is any action taken to permanently eliminate or reduce the long-term risk and hazards of climate change to human life and property.

The potential to adjust to minimize negative impact and maximize any benefits from changes in climate is known as adaptive capacity.

Economic diversification within sectors to reduce dependence on climate-sensitive resources, particularly for countries that depend on limited and climate-sensitive economic activities, such as the export of climate-sensitive crops, is an important adaptation strategy Impact of Climate Change on Indian Water Resources The importance of Himalayan river systems can be gauged from the fact that these three river systems contribute more than 60 per cent to the total annual runoff from all the rivers of India.

Actions needed:

1. Improve hydro-meteorological network for better monitoring.

2. Update basin wise water availability in the current situation.

3. Determining extent of current climatic/hydro-meteorological variability and future projections in variability due to climate change including the impact on rainfall frequency and intensity.

4. Generate reliable downscaling of GCM projections to regional and basin level.

5. Assess impact of CC on surface and ground water availability and their interaction (with specific emphasis on coastal areas).

6. Assess impact of CC on Land-Use/ Land-Cover and their coupled impact on water resources.

7. Assess impact of CC on rainfall Intensity-Duration-Frequency relationships in urban areas.

8. Assess impact on magnitude duration- frequency of drought (agricultural, meteorological and hydrological).

9. Assess impact on sediment loads and management implications.

10. Review hydrological planning design, and operating standards inview of changed scenario.

11. To cope up with enhanced scarcity and variability in the water sector, develop adequate infrastructure.

12. Develop databases and tool-boxes and practice Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

The time lost in fetching water can very well translate into financial gains, leading to a better life for the family. If opportunity costs were taken into account, it would be clear that in most rural areas, households are paying far more for water supply than the often-normal rates charged in urban areas. In brief, at an estimate about 150 Million-Woman Days and Rs 10 Billion are lost in fetching water. Water is the biggest crisis India is facing in terms of spread and severity, affecting one in every three persons. In India, there are many villages either with scarce water supply or without any source of water. If there is no source of potable water in 2.5 kilometres, then the village becomes no source water village or problem village.

Case studies

1) In the cases of villages of Plachimada in Kerala, Raja Talab in UP and Kala dera in Rajasthan, ground water mining of millions of litres per day by some multi-nationals has created a water famine. Apart from the water scarcity caused in Plachimada, the other districts in the state are also facing the water crisis. For instance, in Kottayam district at some places, the water scarcity is so acute that people hesitate to offer a glass of water to the visitor, which hitherto was a common custom.

2) In the town of Latur in Marathwada, water scarcity is so severe that the district collector has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC (making assembly of more than 10 people unlawful) for two months to prevent law and order problems arising from the water crisis. The administration has taken over 150 wells and tubewells near the city because the dam that supplied water to Latur’s population of 4.5 lakh and adjoining rural areas dried up in March 2016.

3) In Bundelkhand, women have no work but to collect drinking water on their heads from long distance. The grim situation of water may be best illustrated by one Bundelkhandi saying which roughly translated as “let the husband die but the earthen pot of water should not be broken”.

Faulty policy of government

a) Research showed that the drought of 1972 was used by the World Bank to promote sugarcane cultivation, requiring intensive irrigation based on water mining through tubewells and borewells, just as the drought of 1965 was used to force the Green Revolution on India.

b) Marathwada lies in the rain shadow of the Western Ghats and receives an average of 600-700 mm of rainfall. Given the hard rock bed of the Deccan Trap, only 10 per cent of this water goes into the ground to recharge wells. Sugarcane requires 1,200 mm of water, which is 20 times more than the annual recharge. When 20 times more water is withdrawn from the ground than available, a water famine is inevitable, even when the rainfall is normal.

c) More than 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1995 — most of them in the Bt cotton areas. Marathwada and Vidarbha account for 75 per cent of farmer suicides

d) The menace of Bt cotton- in Maharashtra. In 2001-2002, before Bt cotton was commercially approved, the area under cotton in Marathwada was 0.89 lakh hectares which has increased by 23 times to become 18.386 lakh ha by 2005-06.

• Bt cotton hybrids are not suited to regions like Vidarbha and Marathwada. They need more water and, therefore, fail more frequently when assured irrigation is not available.

• Bt cotton is also killing beneficial soil organisms which degrades organic matter and turns it into humus. Soils are becoming sterile. Our studies show that more than 50 per cent beneficial soil organisms have been destroyed by Bt toxins in Bt cotton areas.

• The increase in Bt cotton came at the cost of jowar which holds the answer to drought in Maharashtra. Jowar requires only 250 mm water and would have survived the drought, giving farmers food and livelihood security even with a deficient monsoon. Between 2004-05 and 2011-12, while Bt cotton in Beed (in Marathwada) increased from 1.01 to 3.290 lakh ha, the area under “rabi jowar” decreased from 2.567 to 1.704 lakh ha.

• Bt cotton has displaced the mixed and rotational cropping of jowar, tur, mung, urad, wheat and chana. During the 1984 drought in northern Karnataka, an old farmer told us, “Bring me the old seeds of the native jowar, and I will drive away the drought”. Not only do indigenous crops like jowar use less water, they increase the water-holding capacity of soil by producing large quantities of organic matter which, when returned to the soil, increases the soil’s fertility and water-holding capacity.

• Native seeds and organic farming are the answer to drought and climate change, to farmers’ suicides and to the agrarian distress. They are also the answer to hunger and malnutrition.

Giant water projects, in most cases, benefits the powerful and dispossess the weak. Even when such projects are publicly funded, their beneficiaries are mainly construction companies, industries, and commercial farmers. Increasingly, the term “Water Providers” is being used not for the women who work to provide water, but for the water giants who take water from communities and sell it back to them at high cost for profit. The water traders, water profiteers are positioning themselves as “water providers” while increasing women’s burden in water provisioning. To mitigate the women-water burden the study suggests the following measures.

1. Restore the conventional methods of water conservation like Baolis, Jhods, Ponds, Tankas.

2. Introduce rainwater harvesting.

3. Change the cropping pattern of agriculture. Instead of growing water intensive crops like Green revolution paddy and sugarcane, introduce crops like millet, ragi, which consume less water.

4. In cities, instead of Public Private Partnership (Privatisation of water) Public-Public partnership (Public and Government) is an alternative for water crisis.

5. Proper water conservation measures should be used. People should be made aware and trained on the techniques of water conservation.

6. Government schemes should be implemented properly.

7. Involve panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and NGOs in the management of rural water supply.

8. Women should have community control over water so that they can manage water as a common resource for the sustainability of the eco-system, their families and villages. They should be trained as water managers for the better utilization of water.

9. Future programmes/projects should be designed, keeping in view the women as water users.

More than any other resource, water needs to remain a common good and requires community management. In fact in most societies, private ownership of water has been prohibited. However, the emergence of modern water extraction technologies has increased the role of the state in water management. With globalization and privatization of water resources, efforts are under way to erode people’s rights over water.

Throughout history and across the world, water rights have been shaped both by the limits of ecosystems and by the needs of people. In fact, the  root of the Urdu word abadi, or human settlement, is ab, or water, reflecting the formation of human settlements and civilization along water sources. The doctrine of riparian rights – the natural rights of dwellers supported by a water system, especially a river system, to use water-also arose

from this concept of ab. Water has traditionally been treated as a natural right – arising out of human nature, historic conditions, basic needs, or notions of justice. Water rights as natural rights do not originate with the state; they evolve out of a given ecological context of human  existence

There are nine principles underpinning water democracy:

1. Water is nature’s gift. We receive water freely from nature. We owe it to nature to use this gift in accordance with our sustenance needs, to keep it clean and in adequate quantity. Diversions that create or waterlogged regions violate the principles of ecological democracy.

2. Water is essential to life. Water is the source of life for all species. All species and ecosystems have a right to their share of water on the planet.

3. Life is interconnected through water. Water connects all beings and all parts of the planets through the water cycle. We all have a duty to ensure that our actions do not cause harm to other species and other people.

4. Water must be free for sustenance needs. Since nature gives water to us free of cost, buying and selling it for profit violates our inherent right to nature’s gift and denies the poor of their human rights.

5. Water is limited and can be exhausted. Water is limited and exhaustible if used non sustainably. Non-sustainable use includes extracting more water from ecosystems than nature can recharge (ecological nonsustainability) and consuming more than one’s legitimate share, given the rights of others to a fair share (social nonsustainability).

6. Water must be conserved. Everyone has a duty to conserve water and use water sustainably, within ecological and just limits.

7. Water is a common resource. It is not a human invention. It cannot be bound and has no boundaries. It cannot be owned as private property and sold as a commodity.

8. No one holds a right to destroy water. No one has a right to overuse, abuse, waste, or pollute water systems. Tradable- Pollution permits violate the principle of sustainable and just use.

9. Water cannot be substituted. Water is intrinsically different from other resources and products. It cannot be treated as a commodity. This World Environment Day, we need to make a clear choice for the future of the planet and our survival — whether we want to step deeper into ecological and social emergencies as slaves of giant corporations, or we want to live as free and caring members of the earth family, Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, following our dharma in the creation.

It is also enshrined in our constitution that it is our fundamental duty ‘to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wild-life and to have compassion for living creatures.

The legislative framework of the constitution related to water is based on Entry 17 of the State List, Entry 56 in the Union List, and Article 262 of the Constitution. These are:

a) Entry 17 in List II (State List) in Schedule VII : Although water is a state subject and therefore is in the State List, but it is subject to the provisions of Entry 56 in the Union List, Under Entry 17 of the state list, the legislative power of a state has to be exercised without adversely affecting the interests of other states and avoiding any dispute. But since the power to legislate the regulation and development of interstate rivers lies with the Parliament, the authority of the state Government over water can be exercised, but it will be subjected to limitations that can be imposed by the Parliament. Thus, it won’t be right if we say that water is entirely a state-subject. Rather, it is as much a Union subject as it is a state subject as the supremacy in all its matters lies with the Parliament.

b) Entry 56 of List I (Union List): Regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valleys to the extent to which such regulation and development under the control of the Union is declared by Parliament by law to be expedient in the public interest.

c) Article 262: (1) Parliament may, by law, provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any Inter-State river or river valley. (2) Not withstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as is referred to in clause (1).Some other articles and entries may also have a bearing on the matter.

The River Boards Act 1956: The River Boards Act, 1956, provides for the establishment of River Boards, for the regulation and development of inter-State rivers and river valleys. On a request received from a State Government or otherwise, the Central Government may establish a Board for “advising the Government interested” in relation to such matters concerning the regulation or development of an inter-State river or river valley (or any specified part) as may be notified by the Central Government.

• Different Boards may be established for different inter-State rivers or river valleys. The Board will have persons having special knowledge and experience in irrigation, electrical engineering, flood control, navigation, water conservation, soil conservation, administration or finance.

• Functions of the Board are advisory and cover conservation of the inter-State river, schemes for irrigation and drainage, development of hydro-electric power, schemes for flood control, promotion of navigation, and control of soil erosion and prevention of pollution.

Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956: This Act extends to the whole of India. Under this Act, a State Government which has a water dispute with another State Government may request the Central Government to refer the dispute to a tribunal for adjudication. If the Central Government thinks that the dispute cannot be settled by negotiation, it refers the dispute to a Tribunal. The Tribunal then investigates the matter and gives its decision, which is considered final and binding on the parties, and even the Supreme Court and other courts shall not interfere with its decision. The Central Government may frame a scheme, providing for all matters necessary to give effect to the decision of the Tribunal. The scheme may establish an authority for implementation. (Section 6A).

Water Tribunal: In case the states fail to implement the terms of any agreement relating to the use, distribution or control of such waters, the state can request the Central Government to refer the water dispute to a Tribunal for adjudication under section 3. If the Central Government feels that the water dispute cannot be settled by negotiations, the Central Government shall, within a period not exceeding one year from the date of receipt of such request, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute a Water Disputes Tribunal for the adjudication of the water dispute, provided that any dispute settled by a Tribunal before the commencement of Inter-State Water Disputes (Amendment) Act, 2002 shall not be re-opened”.

When a Tribunal has been constituted under section 4, the Central Government will (subject to the prohibition contained in section 8) refer the matter of water dispute to the Tribunal to investigate the matter, which then would forward its report to the Central government giving its decision on the concerned matter within a period of three years.

So far, we have had many cases where the tribunals were constituted, such as Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT); The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT)filed by the party States of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh; Mahadayi/Mandovi and Vansadhara water disputes, the requests were received from States of Goa and Odisha ,where the establishment of a Tribunal is in advanced stage of implementation; Ravi & Beas Waters Tribunal (RBWT) involving Punjab and Haryana; Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal involving Haryana’s share of Ravi-Beas waters and non-completion of SYL Canal in Punjab.

Panchayati Raj Laws: Under Section 92 of Panchayati Raj Law, it is a fundamental right of the village Panchayat to form a Water Committeee to ensure proper water management, equal distribution, tax collection and protection of water resources. Under its Section 99, it is the duty of the Gram Panchayat to provide adequate water for domestic usage and animals, construct and clean drains, wells, lakes used for irrigation; Remove or fill the wells lakes, puddles, hollows etc. Under its Section 110, Panchayat has the authority to approve the construction of drainage pits. Under Section 200, Panchayat can collect water related taxes, Panchayat providing piped water can collect the tax for it in any form, in case of various class, according to the special water tax collected from Panchayat owned wells and ponds for the purposes other than household use and for animals.

April 10, 2017

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