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.
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.
Water Management is carried out by 2 bodies
- CGWB is responsible for framing policies and guidelines related to the exploitation of ground water .
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- According to a CWC note, 11 different Departments or Ministries handle the subject of water in different ways.
Aim and working of NWC
- 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.
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.
It will stress on a multidisciplinary approach towards water usage and conservation by consulting professionals from across the domain
- Will follow a participatory approach where Local communities will have a decisive role in the allocation and use of water in their areas.
- 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