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Q. Institutional failure on Mahadayi conflict: Do Mahadayi conflict between Karnataka-Goa points to institutional and conceptual failings on the issue of water-sharing? Comment.
Aug 02, 2016 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

Recently the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal, which was formed in 2010 following a plea by Goa, has issued an interim order restraining Karnataka from withdrawing 7.6 tmc ft (thousand million cubic feet) of water a year.

The tribunal has issued order despite the assumption that the water flow in Karnataka is 44-53 tmc ft, depending on the monsoon pattern, and the water flow for the river as a whole, including the Goa stretch, is about 200 tmc ft.

Does it point institutional and conceptual failures?

  • According Supreme Court verdict, drinking water needs cannot be subject to inter-State wrangling. Hence recent verdict of Mahadayi tribunal seems to be unfair to Karnataka.
  • In 2000. Central government acceded to Karnataka’s Kalasa-Banduri canal, but withdrew its acceptance after Goa government raised objections. Different parties being in power in both states have created a situation that is not conducive to a negotiated settlement.
  • But, for political interest of each parties, Karnataka should not be a victim of political one-upmanship. River disputes became serious proportions not only because of political opportunism, but also because politicians and advisors often displayed poor understanding of the problem at hand.
  • Also in the present case it appears that, assessments of water-flow does not considered realities of the northern Karnataka like intensified drought, increasingly hot weather etc.
  • Similarly surface and groundwater resources are not collectively evaluated. The economic and livelihood needs of a riverine system, apart from ecological needs, are overlooked.
  • There are no signs that policymakers are prepared for intensified water conflicts, with rising population and urbanisation imposing added pressures on water bodies. Hence most of the times water conflicts are results of institutional and conceptual failures.

Suggestions-

  • Due to increasing water conflicts across the nation, India needs river basin authorities that run as bottom-up systems so that a vibrant political process takes care of managing river waters.
  • Similarly there should be a unified policy to manage surface and groundwater. Hence there is an urgent need of institutional reforms to managing water.

Conclusion-

Water conflicts in India are increasing. Water being emotional issues politicians used it as political tool to serve their purposes. Also many times they lacked required information to solve the issues. Even institutions involved in water conflicts also overlooked based information many times. Hence increasing conflicts directly points out institutional and conceptual failures in these issues. It time to look rationally and find practical solutions to these issues.


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