India’s water sector: The performance and challenges – A presentation by Himanshu Thakker of SANDRP

This presentation deals with performance of India’s water sector and the challenges therein.

Karcham WangtooThe sector is marked by large-scale water development projects like big dams. There has been an absence of a credible assessment of performance of large dams while new ways are being attempted to push big projects such as interlinking of rivers, food security, flood control, Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Project, National Projects, advocacy to increase storage capacities, clean (hydro) energy and climate change.

The presentation discusses the strong push for large hydropower projects these days, while they continue to give diminishing returns. The sector is marked by unviable projects, over development, optimistic assumptions, siltation, inadequate repair and maintenance, Run of the River projects, etc.

The presentation suggests the following options -

  • There are several success stories in India where the improved decision making through multi-stakeholder planning processes on water services have delivered sustainable solutions rather than trade-offs.
  • It is possible to cater to the justifiable demands of the people over large areas spanning over several districts, through a network of hundreds of small projects.
  • These projects have much more equitable, sustainable benefits and there could be unexpected spin off benefits, as against unexpected, spin off losses in large dams.
  • These projects can also help in evolution of an institutional mechanism for better decision making and management.
  • These provide real options for people to earn decent livelihood in sustainable way, without involving toxic, de-humanising dreams.

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