Towards Water Federalism 2.0: Perspectives from Ganga and Brahmaputra river basins

 

National Conference

 

Towards Water Federalism 2.0
Perspectives from Ganga and Brahmaputra river basins

 

Recently, the present geological epoch has been officially named as Anthropocene – the age of humans. Human influence on the earth system has been but growing, causing climate change and subsequent weather extremes such as heatwaves and flooding. India is majorly affected by global warming. 2019 has brought new temperature records, droughts, floods – causing human and economic losses. While groundwater resources have already been largely used up, a steadily growing population and rapid rate of industrialization and urbanization continue to increase water demand. Thus India ranks among the countries with the highest water-stress.

The government is pursuing ambitious plans and created a Ministry of Jal Shakti to put these plans into action. A large portion of the success of these plans depends on rivers, e.g. the Ganga and Brahmaputra are lifelines for trade, tourism, agriculture and industry. Efficient management and rejuvenation of India’s rivers are thus crucial for fighting the effects of global warming.

Rivers are source of both conflicts and cooperation. The execution of India’s institutional framework for preventing and solving conflicts over water is flawed. This holds true especially for water disputes between states. To make the existing mechanisms more responsive, efficient and effective, a fresh look is required. The 3rd National Water conference by Hanns Seidel Foundation and Asian Confluence provides a platform for in-depth discussions on India’s water federalism. Lawmakers from centre and states, experts of think tanks and Civil Society Organisations are invited to debate on the scientific and environmental developments and contribute to the political discourse.

The conference will shed light on the current status of water federalism and focus on two major rivers systems – the Ganga and Brahmaputra – for their critical importance for ecology, economy and society.

Objectives:

·     1. Facilitate a discussion on:

o   Scientific status of the Ganga and Brahmaputra river systems

o   Key policies and action from the governments

o   Inter-state water sharing and cooperation issues – legal and socio-economic framework

o   Participation of civil society in water cooperation discourse

o   Centre-State water relations and cooperation mechanisms

·    2. Provide exchange among various stakeholders from government, experts, academia to civil society organizations on the above issues

·      3. Discuss Inter-state River Water Dispute (Amendment) Bill, 2019  

·    4. Develop policy recommendations for the Ministry of Jal Shakti for future course of action on interstate river water disputes and overall water governance in the country