At the beginning of this century, the State faced the following problems in the water sector: These problems necessitated a radical change in the approach to water resources development and management in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Realising such a need, the state government initiated a number of administrative and legal reforms which constitute broadly what is known as the ‘Water Sector Reforms’. These include the formulation of the comprehensive State Water Policy 2003, implementation of a Water Sector Improvement Project to rehabilitate 286 irrigation projects (major, medium and minor) and the enactment, in March 2005, of two statutes namely the Maharashtra Management of Irrigation Systems by Famers (MMISF) Act and the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) Act.
The primary philosophy of the water sector reforms is the adoption of an ‘integrated multi-sector approach’ with regards to the river basin as a unit of development. The principle of stakeholder and user participation in various aspects of water resources development and management viz, determination of entitlements, fixation of water charges and preparation of the State Water Plan, is being practised while implementing the reforms. The MMISF Act empowers WUAs to primarily carry out functions such as preparing preliminary irrigation programme, allocation and enforcement of entitlement to its members, and collection of water charges in their area of operation with a participatory approach. The MWRRA establishes a regulatory mechanism for overseeing the relationship between the service provider and water user entities and also within a water user entity, in terms of determination, enforcement and dispute resolution of entitlements and fixation of water charges.
The MWRRA was established in August 2005 and became operational in mid 2006. The office is located on the 9th floor of the World Trade Centre building at Cuffe Parade in Mumbai.