Concept Note - All India Water Regulators' Meet

There exists immense pressure on India’s natural resources as with 16% of the world’s total population, its economic activities, ambitions and needs are dependent upon 2.5% of the World’s land and 4% of the total reusable water resources .

Nine out of ten risks with above average impact and likelihood have clear linkages to water (Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)).

The wide geographical extent of the country exhibits water resources variation across regions and river basins. Water is plenty in the Northeast (Brahmaputra and Meghna basins), but few people live there, and land availability and food production is low. In the northwest most of the water resources are diverted for crop production to the extent that this region supplies food to the deficit regions of the country making it the largest provider of virtual water, which is embedded in food in the country. Water is scarce in the southwest and west of the country as the naturally drier areas come under increasing demand, and the aquifer have low storage capacity.

The implications of future food and water demand under the business as usual scenario trends projects that India’s water demand, for the irrigation, industrial and domestic sectors, will increase by 22% and 32%, respectively by 2025 and 2050. It’s Industrial and domestic sectors will account for 54% and 85% of the additional water demand by 2025 and 2050.

With ever widening gap between water resources availability and demand coupled with resource variability and projected future needs, there is an acute need for effective and efficient governance systems with necessary reforms in the country. To manage, the water consumption patterns in different category of usage, to bring about a dynamic balance between resource availability, its demand and

Amarasinghe, Upali & McCornick, Peter & Shah, Tushaar. (2019). India's Water Demand Scenarios to 2025 and 2050: A Fresh Look.distribution, to reduce potential conflicts arising due to ineffective resource management, sustaining the resource and related infrastructure requires enforceable regulatory measures to disrupt business as usual approach to water governance.

An independent regulator in the water sector is one such institutional reform that will serve the country strive towards maintaining a dynamic balance between water resources availability and future demands.

The primary responsibility of managing water resource in the country is bestowed with the States as per the Entry 17 in the State List. Therefore, the onus of regulating the water sector lies with the States.

In view of the above context, many states in the last decade have adopted for institutional reforms in the form of an independent regulatory body. States like Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra have passed statues for setting up a regulatory institution for governing the water resources in these states of which Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir are known to have an active regulatory body in place.

Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority was established in August 2006, under provisions of the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority Act, 2005 to ensure judicious, equitable and sustainable management of water resources. Additionally, the State Government notified the Groundwater (Development & Management) Act, 2009 in December 2013 and MWRRA has been entrusted to act as the State Ground Water Authority (SGWA) since June 2014.

Water undoubtedly touches upon the lives of every individual on a daily basis and the consequences of ineffective governance is well known to all the stakeholders in the sector. The current set of challenges in the water sector specific to each State is much more complex and dynamic and therefore requires effective regulatory regimes with enforceable regulatory instruments to bring about a tangible impact in the sector.

Regulatory Authorities like that in Maharashtra i.e., Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) has devised various innovative incentive based models for improving water use efficiency for different use category. It is one of the many regulatory instruments devised by the Authority for ensuring effective governance in the sector.

Similarly, it is believed that, other water regulatory authorities and states with existing water regulation statues have devised their own set of regulatory instruments for carrying out their prescribed functions.

New and innovative regulatory instruments are being devised in the water sector across the country. But, this knowledge in the sector is sporadic and confined to State specific regulatory regimes. With limited exposure and exchange between the regulators across the country there exists an untapped pool of experiential knowledge gathered in the water regulation space over the years.

The ever growing need for effective regulation in the sector owing to increasing contestation, changing socio-economic conditions and increase in adversities owing to climate variability across the country, calls for the development of a collective regulatory regime in the water sector. This collective regime will provide for a platform for all the regulators to share their knowledge and experience gained over the years in the regulation space.

In view of the need to develop a collective regulatory regime in the water sector, Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) is presuming a proactive role in organising an ALL INDIA WATER REGULATORS’ MEET.

The objective of this meet is to:

  • Understand the scenario of water regulation in different states

  • Discuss the journey of water regulation so far

  • Deliberate on the existing and future challenges in the water sector

  • Discuss on the possible regulatory instruments to address these challenges in the sector

  • Create a platform for continuous knowledge exchange and experience sharing
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