Whither India’s Federal Governance for Long-Term Water Security?

Whither India’s Federal Governance for Long-Term Water Security?

in Water Governance and Management in India
Edited by Girish Chadha and Ashwin B. Pandya
Springer Singapore
2021

India’s federal governance for long-term water security has not received its due attention. The discourse about federal governance is generally dominated by that of fiscal federalism. The limited work about federal water governance is restricted to interstate river water disputes and their resolution. Poor indicators of national water resources governance do not inspire confidence about its long-term security. The chapter posits that this is an outcome of the federal constituents—the states and the union territories—assuming exclusive powers over water governance. They pursue inward and territorialized strategies for water resources management, leading to conditions akin to a collective action problem to pursue national development and long-term security goals. It is long recognized that the Centre has to play an anchoring role and work with states towards pursuing these goals. Does it have the required leverage to influence states? This chapter, perhaps a first, is a modest effort to address this question. It takes a closer look at the historical changes in budgetary allocations of the Centre and selects states for water resources governance towards an empirical assessment of this leverage. The chapter concludes that the federal water governance in India is weakly structured and poorly nurtured to pursue its national development and long-term sustainability goals.