This article highlights the relevance of river water management in the context of the deteriorating status of rivers in the country
This paper from the Centre for Good Governance highlights the relevance of river water management as an important area for natural resources management in the context of the current deteriorating status of the rivers in India in terms of quality as well as quantity, and argues that public intervention through appropriate institution and an action plan approach can be very useful for effective river water management.
Fixing water allocation among different areas when the river flows through multiple states and people itself has been a contentious issue with large political agenda attached to it over a long time in India. A similar problem arises now with regards to river water pollution across the states. Here, the challenge is not that of water distribution, but burden-sharing of pollution treatment and river water quality maintenance, which also involves coordinated and co-operative action in order to be effective.
The paper argues that river water management therefore involves balancing of water quantity and quality through appropriate policy instruments. Although independent actions of individuals can make some difference, public intervention through appropriate institution and policy mix can be more effective than individual level action towards river water management because it involves resource sharing and the consequent need for regulation of use that could lead to noncomplaint behaviours, resource decline and conflicts among users.
The paper discusses the public intervention strategies and informs that a multitude of factors need to be considered while formulating a policy in case of river water where policy makers are confronted by the various operational aspects of water management, complementing and conflicting, to be covered by the policy. The body of policy making needs to include:
- Formulation of goals and objectives
- Analysis and design of strategies
- Monitoring and review of outcomes
The paper highlights the poor state of Yamuna river water resource and the need for public intervention and use of economic values of water as one of the guiding principles for prioritisation and allocation of water to users and the need for establishing an exclusive administering agency for ensuring better river water quality and quantity.
The paper goes on to to provide a critical analysis of the implementation of Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) as an institutional approach towards river water management, and attempts to identify the alternate institutional arrangements and appropriate policy instruments for achieving the objectives within a broad management framework.
The article critically evaluates the current Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) in the context of this poor state of the river and argues that the action plan has a strong focus on actions rather than activities that achieve the objectives in long term. Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) is an intervention, but it is executed as a time-bound project with focus on pollution by treatment of water, rather than prevention of river water pollution.
However, a dedicated institution of public nature that takes a holistic approach to river water management is required here, which is a river water authority that undertakes the activities that lead to improved river water management in the medium to long term.
The article argues for an institutional approach to river basin management through the following guideposts:
- Focus on water quality improvement
- Water quantity allocation and waste water discharge control
- Economic valuation of river water
The article ends by providing a framework for public intervention for river water management and defining policy instruments.
A copy of the paper can be accessed at this link