A 21st century institutional architecture for India’s water reforms: restructuring the CWC and CGWB

The Central Water Commission will formally protest against a proposal to subsume it into a new organisation. The proposal that resulted from a report — A 21st Century Institutional Architecture for India’s Water Reforms: Restructuring the CWC and CGWB — of a high-powered committee led by Mihir Shah, member of the erstwhile Planning Commission, was submitted to the Water Resources Ministry in July. The proposed National Water Commission will be a science-led agency to advise the States on how much water they can use without affecting rivers and groundwater, taking surface- and groundwater-usage as a single entity. The CWC, established in 1945, is in charge of surface water and creating storage structures such as dams and medium-scale reservoirs. The Central Ground Water Board is tasked with managing groundwater. The new body should be an adjunct office of the Ministry, functioning with both full autonomy and requisite accountability; should be headed by a Chief National Water Commissioner; and should have full-time commissioners representing Hydrology (present Chair, CWC), Hydrogeology (present Chair, CGWB), Hydrometeorology, River Ecology, Ecological Economics, Agronomy (with focus on soil and water) and Participatory Resource Planning & Management, the report said.