Inception Workshop on 'Water and Federalism: A Study Supported by The World Bank' (invite only)

Inception Workshop on 'Water and Federalism: A Study Supported by The World Bank' (invite only)
Friday, 12 October 2018 Add to Calendar 2018-10-12 09:30:00 2018-10-12 13:00:00 Asia/Kolkata Inception Workshop on 'Water and Federalism: A Study Supported by The World Bank' (invite only) India’s federal governance of water resources has evolved with a premise that states have exclusive powers over water management. As a result, water resources management (WRM) strategies of states are diverse, and are often appear ‘opportunistic’ – responding to their respective contexts, conditions and constituencies. Much of the challenges of water governance - characterized by intense use, declining quality and competition over resources - can be attributed to these tendencies of states. This is further aggravated by what Ramaswamy Iyer called 'the wilful abdication of its powers' by the centre. However, the increasing overall conditions of 'water stress' and their nature of transboundary interdependencies bring federal governance of water into sharp focus. This calls for revisiting the role of the centre in shaping the water governance strategies of states for better outcomes. Indeed, the notions of states’ exclusive powers over water are not accurate, but the powers are subject to centre’s powers with respect to interstate rivers’ development and regulation under the Entry 56, Union List. In addition to this constitutional division of powers, there are several other means of exercising centre’s role in shaping WRM of states towards a more coherent and integrated governance of water in India. These means include a range of policy, legal, institutional and financial instruments. This potential role of centre in setting the WRM agenda of states and shaping them has not been adequately articulated, and practiced much less so – a central concern driving this study. It is with the intent of understanding the potential ways of leveraging federal structural relations for better WRM by states that the World Bank (WB) has commissioned the study by the Centre for Policy Research (CPR). The study seeks to explore into the possibilities of incentivizing better WRM performance of states by centre in India. The idea is to go beyond the extant legal and institutional structures and financial transfers and look for opportunities for strengthening and improving them to achieve better outcomes in managing water resources. The study is in particular conscious of the ongoing larger restructuring and evolving federal relations, greatly attributed to the supposedly significant reorganization of financial transfers between centre and states following the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FC14) recommendations. The Fifteenth Finance Commission (FC15) is also set to similar path of reforms by its intent to look into linking financial transfers to sectoral performances of states. The recent release of the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report by the NITI Aayog has been assumed to be an attempt to look into such possibilities in water sector. This background adds significance to our attempt to understanding centre’s role in shaping states’ WRM strategies for better performance. The study will be car... Conference Hall, Centre for Policy Research
9:30 am to 1:00 pm
Conference Hall, Centre for Policy Research

India’s federal governance of water resources has evolved with a premise that states have exclusive powers over water management. As a result, water resources management (WRM) strategies of states are diverse, and are often appear ‘opportunistic’ – responding to their respective contexts, conditions and constituencies. Much of the challenges of water governance - characterized by intense use, declining quality and competition over resources - can be attributed to these tendencies of states. This is further aggravated by what Ramaswamy Iyer called 'the wilful abdication of its powers' by the centre. However, the increasing overall conditions of 'water stress' and their nature of transboundary interdependencies bring federal governance of water into sharp focus. This calls for revisiting the role of the centre in shaping the water governance strategies of states for better outcomes.

Indeed, the notions of states’ exclusive powers over water are not accurate, but the powers are subject to centre’s powers with respect to interstate rivers’ development and regulation under the Entry 56, Union List. In addition to this constitutional division of powers, there are several other means of exercising centre’s role in shaping WRM of states towards a more coherent and integrated governance of water in India. These means include a range of policy, legal, institutional and financial instruments. This potential role of centre in setting the WRM agenda of states and shaping them has not been adequately articulated, and practiced much less so – a central concern driving this study.

It is with the intent of understanding the potential ways of leveraging federal structural relations for better WRM by states that the World Bank (WB) has commissioned the study by the Centre for Policy Research (CPR). The study seeks to explore into the possibilities of incentivizing better WRM performance of states by centre in India. The idea is to go beyond the extant legal and institutional structures and financial transfers and look for opportunities for strengthening and improving them to achieve better outcomes in managing water resources.

The study is in particular conscious of the ongoing larger restructuring and evolving federal relations, greatly attributed to the supposedly significant reorganization of financial transfers between centre and states following the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FC14) recommendations. The Fifteenth Finance Commission (FC15) is also set to similar path of reforms by its intent to look into linking financial transfers to sectoral performances of states. The recent release of the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report by the NITI Aayog has been assumed to be an attempt to look into such possibilities in water sector. This background adds significance to our attempt to understanding centre’s role in shaping states’ WRM strategies for better performance.

The study will be carried in the next few months and will involve a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. In this inception workshop, we will be sharing our research plans, methodology and expected outcomes. Keeping in view of  your long standing interests and expertise in the subject, we seek your inputs towards shaping the study. We are particularly interested in your inputs about the following: (i) On the proposed approach and methodology; and, (ii) your expectations by addressing one or more of the following questions we formulated for the conversation.

It will be a half-day workshop and will follow an open-ended conversation format; no formal paper presentations are expected.

  1. How do states’ set their WRM strategies and priorities? What are their rationalities and preferences?
  2. What kind of influence do inter-governmental transfers have in shaping/shifting states’ WRM approaches? To what extent? Limits of such an approach?
  3. What kind of incentivization of inter-governmental transfers can help centre influence states’ WRM performance? Are composite metrics (e.g. NITI’s CWMI) useful? What alternatives are possible?
  4. How do central policies, laws and institutions impact WRM preferences of states? What better ways of deploying these instruments?

Workshop Schedule:

9:30 am

Registration and welcome tea/coffee

10 am

30 minutes

Opening remarks, brief presentation by CPR team on the study

10:30 am

150 minutes

Each participant will speak for 5-7 minutes on one or more questions listed below.

1:00 pm

30 minutes

Closing remarks

1:30 pm

Lunch