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Central Water Commission facing an identity crisis
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.”