- T Rajeshwari, Additional Secretary, MoWR, RD&GR, GoI
- Junaid Kamal Ahmad, India Country Director, The World Bank
- Ijsbrand H de Jong, Lead Water Resources Specialist, The World Bank
The discussion will be moderated by Deepak Sanan, IAS (Retd). It will be held in the format of roundtable consultation with a tea break in between.
About the Event
India’s federal governance of water resources has evolved with a premise that States have exclusive powers over water governance. As a result, water resources management (WRM) strategies of States are diverse, and respond to their respective contexts, conditions and constituencies. The cumulative impacts - characterized by water stress, depleting groundwater levels, declining quality and competition over resources – have serious implications for national water security. An additional aggravating factor is the apparent inconsequential role of the centre. This may sound exaggerated, but Ramaswamy Iyer attributed this to “the wilful abdication of its powers” by the Centre. Yet, the overall “water stress” conditions and the trends of their further aggravation bring federal governance of water into sharp focus. It calls for revisiting the role of the Centre in shaping water governance strategies of States for better outcomes.
Indeed, the notions of States’ exclusive powers over water are not accurate. The powers of States under Entry 17 of the States List are subject to Centre’s powers under the Entry 56 of the Union List - related to interstate rivers’ regulation and development. In addition to this constitutionally provided role, there are several reasons for, as well as means of, exercising the Centre’s role in shaping WRM of States towards a more coherent and integrated governance of water in India. These 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 much less so in practice – a central concern of this study.
This study by the Centre for Policy Research has been commissioned by The World Bank with the intent of understanding potential ways of leveraging federal structural relations for better WRM by States. The study seeks to explore the possibilities of incentivizing and influencing better WRM performance of States by Centre in India. The hope here is to go beyond recognizing the existence of the policy, legal, institutional and financial instruments. The study seeks to explore opportunities of deploying these instruments strategically, while building on States’ preferred prioritization of strategies, towards better outcomes in managing water resources.
The study is in particular conscious of the ongoing larger restructuring and evolving federal relations, much 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 on 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.
CPR had organized an inception workshop in October 2018 sharing its proposed methodology and expected outputs. Over the last few months, we have pursued this study as an inter-disciplinary effort, bringing inputs from different teams with their respective specializations in policy, law and public finance. The study has used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, and also relies on three case studies of Punjab, Maharashtra and Karnataka states. In this Final Workshop, we will be sharing our findings and draft recommendations. Keeping in view of your long standing interests and expertise in the subject, we seek your inputs towards refining and finalizing these recommendations.
It will be a half-day workshop and will follow an open-ended conversation format; no formal paper presentations are expected.
The poster for the workshop can be accessed here.