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Integrated water resource management in Orissa in doldrums
Looking at the practice of government, there is tunnel vision among various departments working on water resources. When department provisioning drinking water is adopting more of a conservation approach, while others are supporting liberal use.
CONSIDERING THE global demand for better management of water and experiencing the problems in water sector like increase in per capita demand for water and greater competition between its various uses and users, both central as well as state government have started thinking in the same line – Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
Orissa, moving a step ahead has come out with a draft road-map for IWRM. Here few fundamental questions appear in mind that is it really an IWRM or a platform for water privatization? Does it really talks about water integrated with ecosystem or water in isolation? And most importantly, has it ensured the spirit of IWRM i.e. participation at all levels and all stakeholders? Here is an analysis of the draft document on IWRM, our state government has prepared.

Looking at the practice of state government, there is tunnel vision among various departments working on water resources. When department provisioning drinking water is adopting more of a conservation approach, department dealing with irrigation is promoting liberal use of water through subsidies. If there is no consensus among the departments under the same government, how IWRM can be expected to work, which speaks about more inclusion and integration?

The document also speaks about a lot of changes in policy related to water. Here question arises that is there really need of policy changes? There are policies like State Water Policy 2007, which also speaks about better management of water resources. But is it really working? Unfortunately in our state, there is no system to monitor the execution of policy. Common man, who is really meant for management of water resource, is yet to know the availability of policy, forget about use of those policies. Again, are the common man consulted before bringing such policy level changes? If no, can we say it a democratic process?
The document seems to propagate Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization regime which has a very bad impact on Orissa and reform in power sector can be a case point. There are many more issues lies with the report, which clearly speaks about inefficiency of IWRM to be established on road map proposed. Looking at whole gamut of issues, it seems as if the document is dictated externally without analyzing its need. It is more of establishing privatization than solution to the water crisis of Orissa.
There ere are many incidents of failure than success of IWRM. According to experts of water sector, IWRM may be the panacea for all water related problems in European countries, but hardly has answers to problems in water sector of

Going through the roadmap of IWRM, it has spelled out the water crisis of Orissa in such a manner, as if IWRM is the only solution left. But is it really a solution? The roadmap speaks more of price fixation than fix to the management problem. Again looking at the management of water, it is the end user who can really manage it.

But the roadmap provides hardly any scope to them to be a part of management. Rather it treats them as consumers, who are bound to pay for the services. Is price fixation only viable answer to the water crisis of Orissa?
Though there is scope of inclusion of Water User Associations (WUA), but is the WUA only user of water? What about the water use by other sectors like drinking and domestic, industries, water related livelihood etc? Focusing on the concept of IWRM, what is about environment as a whole? If the proposed roadmap is not able to include and integrate differences within the water sector, how one can expect that this will work on IWRM, which is much more beyond.
There are many larger issues like pollution, food security, ground water, climate change, which the IWRM should address. But unfortunately the roadmap is more focused on economic benefit rather than social and environmental benefit.
Looking at the definition of IWRM, it is clear that ‘Integrated water resource management is a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems”. The concept of IWRM presupposes ‘more integration, more nature and more participation’.
But unfortunately, while preparing the report, these three vital components are missed out. Couple of external person, without having adequate understanding of Orissa’s geographical, socio-economic and cultural aspect, prepared a road-map, upon which the concept like IWRM will be grounded.
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