ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From Policy to Practice

Principles of Water Governance

The Mihir Shah Committee report lays a solid foundation for restructuring water governance in India. Yet, a few supplementary provisions could reinforce the report’s recommendations, nudging the effort towards improved water resources management. 

Water in India is governed as a public good, with evolving yet disjointed awareness of its environmental, social and economic underpinnings. However, effective management of this limited resource requires a nexus approach to governance, which integrates the cause and effect of water on the environment, society and the economy. This necessitates a shift towards hydrological systems thinking and multi-stakeholder approaches. Furthermore, such approaches should be premised on data, knowledge, and information systems, which prioritise economic decision-making, currently missing in the water governance architecture of the country.

The recently submitted report of the Committee on Restructuring the Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) proposes many critical reforms to water governance, particularly on the environmental and social axes of the trinity approach. When coupled with economic prioritisation to focus on interventions with the highest benefit-to-cost ratio, particularly in view of fiscal constraints, the newly proposed National Water Commission (NWC) could well deliver on the “paradigm shift” articulated in the Twelfth Five Year Plan (Planning Commission 2012).

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