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

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Dams and Displacement: Major Loss, Minor Gain

The Polavaram Project was envisaged to harness the Godavari's waters for much needed irrigation purposes in the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh and the drier Rayalaseema region. However, the project remains dogged by controversy because there has been no agreement on the area to be submerged and the rehabilitation package to be offered to the project affected people.

Contending Water Uses: Bridge over the Brahmaputra

The island of Majuli on the river Brahmaputra has been under constant threat from floods as well as rising erosion levels. Tension has simmered between development agencies responsible for flood control and the local people who have opposed the structural measures. The proposed Bogibeel bridge has evoked concerns that the conflict will see an escalation.

Transboundary Disputes: Politics and Litigation Play Havoc

The conflict over sharing of the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej waters began in 1966, when Haryana was carved out of Punjab and the new state demanded a share under the Punjab Reorganisation Act, which itself is not recognised by Punjab. Despite numerous interventions by the centre and the Supreme Court, the Sutlej Yamuna canal remains incomplete and a general stalemate prevails. In the midst of this controversy, the main issues facing farmers in the two states remain unanswered â?? that of inefficient irrigation policies and practices and increasing cultivation of water intensive crops like paddy and sugar cane.

Equity, Access Allocation: Conflict in the Bhavani

An increase in population, unplanned expansion in the command area of the river Bhavani in Tamil Nadu and the growing domestic and industrial demand for water have intensified competition among water users in the river basin.

Water Quality: Pollution through Aqua Culture

After the richer locals leased land/water from the poor cooperatives in the 1970s in Kolleru in Andhra Pradesh, the land has remained in the name of poor "beneficiaries", while the real fisherfolk work on meagre wages. Ironically, those legally entitled to the benefits have been reduced to wage earners on their own land/water; the rich have not only taken over all the cooperative societies, but have also started illegal encroachments.

Micro-Level Disputes: Gravity Dam in Trouble

The case of the effort to build a small dam in Bhulaveda in Paschim Midnapur district of West Bengal shows that in struggles between government agencies and local self-government, the losers are often the villagers themselves.

Micro-Level Disputes: Failure of Community Institutions

This case study focuses on a group of eight villages in Pathargama block of Godda district of Jharkhand, highlighting water use conflicts between and within villages and the failure of community institutions in dealing with them. The outcomes of these conflicts were the depreciation of the resource base, flash floods and fragmentation, and weakening of traditional institutions. The situation can be resolved by augmenting the resource base and focusing on strengthening village institutions.

Symposium on Report of Twelfth Finance Commission

The Twelfth Finance Commission has broken new ground in several key areas and made recommendations which, if fully implemented, will have a far-reaching impact on the finances and functioning of government in the country at all levels. In order that the issues raised by the TFC report are debated in a wider forum, the EPW invited some of the leading scholars in the field to join in a symposium by contributing papers to this special issue. An overview of the papers and the issues is presented in this introductory article.

Malady of Continuing Fiscal Imbalance

The root causes of the endemic fiscal crisis, especially in the states, are to be found in the simultaneous pursuit of fiscal objectives and policies which are in themselves incompatible. Carry-overs from the central planning era, these policies proceed on the basis that finances can be managed without reference to incentives, financial capacity of sub-national governments or fiscal discipline. Fiscal responsibility cannot be planned from above; rather rules and conditions must be created so that it will have to be practised by states. Subject to this condition, state autonomy should not be affected by the system of central transfers.

Measuring Fiscal Performance of States

An alternative approach of measuring the fiscal discipline of states by preparing a composite index (Fiscal Performance Index) out of eight fiscal indicators is attempted in this paper. It is argued that although the Eleventh and Twelfth Finance Commissions fully recognised the importance of different fiscal parameters, like the composition of government expenditure, sources and pattern of government finances, the magnitude of debt, subsidies and interest burden, the measure of fiscal discipline, adopted by them is based on only one indicator. The Fiscal Self Reliance and Improvement Index constructed by the TFC that considers the 'change' in a single indicator is narrowly based, unstable and biased against the better fiscal performers. The suggested FPI, on the other hand, is multi-dimensional, more stable, just towards better performers and also useful for state level policy-making. The empirical analysis suggests the large inter-state variations in the level of FPI and almost continuous fiscal deterioration during the post-reform years.

Twelfth Finance Commission and Restructuring of State Government Debt: A Note

The Twelfth Finance Commission's proposed plan for restructuring the debt of state governments contains stringent conditions that probably violate the basic tenets of fiscal federalism. Macroeconomic norms dictated by global finance capital could not obviously be reconciled with the requirements of economic democracy.

Approach and Recommendations

The Twelfth Finance Commission has recommended a scheme of fiscal transfers that can serve the objectives of equity and efficiency within a framework of fiscal consolidation. The effort needed to achieve fiscal consolidation must be seen as the joint responsibility of the central and state governments. For achieving vertical and horizontal balance, consistent with the responsibilities of the two levels of governments in respect of providing public and merit goods and services, both the centre and the states need to raise the levels of revenues relative to their respective revenue bases, exercise restraint in undertaking unwarranted expenditure commitments and prioritise expenditures.

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