Weekly Current Affairs

Central Water Commission facing an identity crisis [Governance]

  • The Central Water Commission will formally protest against a proposal to subsume it into a new organisation.
  • The proposal that resulted from a report — A 21st Century Institutional Architecture for India’s Water Reforms: Restructuring the CWC and CGWB — of a high-powered committee led by Mihir Shah, member of the erstwhile Planning Commission, was submitted to the Water Resources Ministry.
  • The proposed National Water Commission will be a science-led agency to advise the States on how much water they can use without affecting rivers and groundwater, taking surface- and groundwater-usage as a single entity.
  • The CWC, established in 1945, is in charge of surface water and creating storage structures such as dams and medium-scale reservoirs. The Central Ground Water Board is tasked with managing groundwater.
  • The new body should be an adjunct office of the Ministry, functioning with both full autonomy and requisite accountability.
  • It should be headed by a Chief National Water Commissioner; and should have full- time commissioners representing Hydrology (present Chair, CWC), Hydrogeology (present Chair, CGWB), Hydrometeorology, River Ecology, Ecological Economics, Agronomy (with focus on soil and water) and Participatory Resource Planning & Management.
  • CWC and CGWB suffer from a lack of professionals.
  • But dams are still critical for national water security and frequently dam projects were hindered because of opposition from the States.
  • This is third time since 2000 that reports been placed for restructuring CWC.
  • However the recent water crises in the face of droughts in 2014 and 2015 and growing concerns with groundwater contamination have provided a fresh trigger.
  • This will be equivalent of the 1991 reforms in water. It will bring groundwater management on par with surface water.”