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

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A Story of Missed Opportunities

Challenges in Water Governance

Seriously water-stressed and facing an unprecedented crisis, India is confronted with many challenges in the water sector, including the lack of reliable information on water, absence of any initiative to restructure the water institutions, a distressed groundwater lifeline, push for large dams, increasing footprint of the urban water sector, and the sorry state of its rivers. Yet, these fail to be taken up as electoral issues.

India is facing an unprecedented and worsening water crisis. The rivers are getting more polluted, their catchments, water-holding and water-harvesting mechanisms are deteriorating, and groundwater levels are depleting at an alarming rate. A large part of western and southern India is facing a drought at present. Some of these areas, for example, Kerala and the Cauvery basin in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, are the areas that faced floods recently. When general elections are being conducted against this backdrop, one naturally expects, though unfortunately in futility, that water scarcity, its management, and challenges become one of the major election issues.

Amongst the challenges that the water sector is confronted with, the first is that of the lack of credible “water information,” that is, information about water storage, groundwater, water flows and, in some cases, even rainfall and snowfall levels. Access to accurate water information could help one understand the risks and urgency of the situation and steer towards informed decisions. As the Mihir Shah Committee report (2016) and the NITI Aayog report (2018) admitted, India is farthest from this goal. The NITI Aayog report, for example, says:

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Updated On : 13th Apr, 2019

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