Importance for the exams

  • Mains – Understand the problems with the existing water management institutions. How a new institutional framework tries to address these, its criticism.
  • Prelims – All the bodies involved, their structure, composition – CWC, CGWB and the proposed NWC.

In News

Mihir Shah Committee recommendations on institutional reforms are being considered by the govt. The Committee proposes setting up of a new National Water Commission(NWC) whose focus will be protection, conservation and preservation of water. It will subsume the present bodies – Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and Central Water Commission (CWC).
These reforms are necessary for the effective implementation of the two proposed laws whose drafts have been released by the Ministry of Water Resources.

Present Framework

Water Management is carried out by 2 bodies
  1. CGWB is responsible for framing policies and guidelines related to the exploitation of ground water .
  2. CWC deals with water in irrigation projects and reservoirs.
Work of river conservation and planning is divided among two Ministries, the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Environment. Glaciers and snow cover are dealt with by the Ministry of Earth Sciences from the point of view of climate change research.

Issues with the present framework

  1. These bodies were setup in an era when India faced completely different set of challenges. CWC was mostly concerned with the creation of irrigation capacity to ensure food security. Likewise, CGWB was concerned with availability of drinking water at the cost of groundwater exploitation. They are not equipped to meet the challenges of today.
  2. In the current setup, they work independently in an isolated manner with very little coordination leading to over extraction of groundwater and drying up of peninsular rivers.
  3. According to a CWC note, 11 different Departments or Ministries handle the subject of water in different ways.

Aim and working of NWC

  1. NWC will unify these 2 bodies and ensure all water-related activities are in sync with each other. Will views surface water and ground water in an integrated and holistic manner.
  2. River basin as a unit of planning – Given the integral link between aquifers, groundwater and river flows, it is important that planning for water management is done at the level of the river basin itself.
  3. It will stress on a multidisciplinary approach towards water usage and conservation by consulting professionals from across the domain
  4. Will follow a participatory approach where Local communities will have a decisive role in the allocation and use of water in their areas.
  5. Industries to declare water footprint.


1. Chief National Water Commissioner as its head.
2. Full time commissioners representing hydrology, hydrogeology, hydrometeorology, river ecology, ecological economics, agronomy (with focus on soil and water) and participatory resource planning and management.
3. 8 divisions –  Irrigation Reform, River Rejuvenation, Participatory Groundwater Management, Urban and Industrial Water, Water Security (including droughts, floods and climate change) and Water Quality


1. The proposed reforms were already being taken up by CGWB and CWC and now they fear will be lost. The recommendations state that they will be merged within the 8 divisions.
2. No way to tell if it will be an effective tool to resolve inter-state issues.


Old Water Policy 2012

Any doubts?

PMO open to single water panel

  1. News: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is receptive to the idea of forming the proposed National Water Commission (NWC) by merging the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB)
  2. Context: The NWC was the key recommendation of a report submitted by Mihir Shah committee that was tasked with reorganising river water management in the country
  3. Power with states: As of today, States must get a technical clearance from the CWC before they can go ahead with constructing dams and other reservoirs
  4. With NWC into existence, this power would devolve to the States and other research institutions
  5. NWC would be a research organisation and a repository of data on India’s river basins

Central Water Commission facing an identity crisis

  1. News: The Central Water Commission will formally protest against a proposal to subsume it into a new organisation
  2. Context: The proposal resulted from the report of a high-powered committee led by Mihir Shah that was submitted to the Water Resources Ministry in July
  3. Background: This is the third time since 2000 that reports have been placed for restructuring the CWC and it is still unclear how seriously the Govt is likely to go ahead with restructuring
  4. However the recent water crises in the face of droughts in 2014 and 2015 and growing concerns with groundwater contamination have provided a fresh trigger

Govt panel moots National Water Commission- II

  1. River interlinking: Panel has warned against its perils and of dependence on large dam projects
  2. Last-mile irrigation: Dismal spread of irrigation facilities over decades
  3. Rec: The Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh model of participatory last-mile connectivity be deployed across the country
  4. States should only concentrate on technically and financially complex structures, such as main systems up to secondary canals and structures at that level
  5. Tertiary level canals and below, minor structures and field channels should be handed over to Water Users Associations of farmers
  6. Command area development: (Setting up last-mile irrigation channels down to the farms) Be integrated into the planning and cost developing process for all irrigation projects
  7. Water-use efficiency: CWC study on 30 completed major and medium irrigation projects- 9 projects have efficiency less than 30% & the average across 30 projects is 38%

Govt panel moots National Water Commission- I

  1. News: Mihir Shah committee set up by the Ministry of Water Resources has recommended that a National Water Commission be set up
  2. NWC: Will be an autonomous body & will to have a countrywide base and mandate, and greater human-power
  3. Dual structure: The Central Water Commission & the Central Ground Water Board have continued to function un-reformed since their formation over several decades
  4. NWC will subsume these 2 organisations
  5. HR: Bring more human resources as well as different kind of expertise into the new commission, including ecologists and social scientists to do away with the existing biases of the two apex organisations
  6. Integrated management: With presence across all river basins, NWC should look at both surface and groundwater management in an integrated fashion
  7. Industrial water use: Should be brought under its ambit, which is rapidly increasing

To sink differences, government plans National Water Commission

  1. Context: Union govt’s proposal to set up National Water Commission for allocation of water resources
  2. Aim: To reduce inter-state water disputes, bring greater efficiency, better planning and increased emphasis on conservation of water
  3. Reason: To ensure that all water resources in the country are managed in a holistic manner and not separately as surface water, ground water or river water
  4. How? – Complete restructuring of the organisations responsible for regulating the use of water resources
  5. Agency:  Currenly, the Central Water Commission oversees irrigation projects, flood management and drinking water supply

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

Highest Rated App. Over 3 lakh users. Click to Download!!!