Executive Summary-Water Seminar

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                                    Executive Summary

                                            Dr. K.V. Raju
               Professor and Head, Centre for Ecological Economics and Natural Resources,
                           Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore
                                   Dr. S.S. Meenakshisundaram
                                 Deputy Chairman, State Planning Board
                                  Government of Karnataka, Bangalore.

        A policy seminar on “Water Resources in Karnataka: Emerging Challenges and
Options” was organised on 25th March 2008. This was a joint effort of the Karnataka
State Planning Board and the Centre for Ecological Economics and Natural Resources of
the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore. The Seminar was held at the
Conference Hall, Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore. The objective of the Seminar was to
discuss the key issues and challenges facing the water sector and to evolve policy
alternatives for adoption by the stakeholders.

        His Excellency Hon’ble Governor of Karnataka Shri Rameshwar Thakur
inaugurated this Seminar and Shri Sudhakar Rao, Chief Secretary, Government of
Karnataka delivered keynote address. Shri S.L. Rao, Chairman, Board of Governors,
ISEC, welcomed the guests and presented the focus of the seminar. Prof.N. Jayaram,
Director, ISEC, in the inaugural session and Smt. Lakshmi Venkatachalam, Principle
Secretary, Planning and Statistics Department, in the concluding session, gave of vote of

        Totally nine papers were presented in this one day seminar, besides, one
inaugural session and at the end a panel discussion (see the Programme schedule in
Annexure-1). The list of paper presenters (see the list in Annexure-2) included, senior
officers of the government of Karnataka, academicians, researchers, non-governmental
organisations, farmers, corporate bodies, and stakeholders in the water sector. The
Seminar was coordinated by Prof. K.V. Raju, Head, CEENR-ISEC and Ms. Bidisha
Chaudhury, Research Consultant and Joint Secretary from Karnataka State Planning
Board side.

Key Issues
       The key speakers, besides His Excellancy the Governor of Karnataka and the
Chief Secretary, have identified several key issues in the water sector. In summary they
    o The state has adequate water, but providing adequate access to types of uses
       and across the state is constrained owing to inadequate and ineffective
    o The state also faces inadequate funds to complete all required physical
       infrastructure projects in the water sector.
    o The related departments such as, rural water supplies, urban water supplies, and
       water resources departments (including major, medium and minor irrigation) is
       affected by lack of manpower, effective organisational systems, and inadequate
       capacity building.
   o   Water resource use in the state is suffering from low use efficiency levels.
   o   Across the state and across the types of uses, the sector is burdened with
       inadequate distribution infrastructure.
   o   There is inadequate convergence of various schemes, running simultaneously in
       the state.
   o   The state is seriously threatened from over-exploitation of groundwater use in
       several parts of the state and laced with lack of groundwater recharge measures.
   o   Inadequate efforts is unable to bring in robust and productive participation from
       water users at different levels.

Strategic Options
        One of the major objective of this seminar is to evolve possible strategic options
to enable the water sector to perform better in a more efficient way and it should be
better governed. Thereby, all speakers consistently stressed on various aspects in this
regard both as short-term and long-term steps.

   o   Needs massive investments. Promote massive investments through public-
       private-panchayat mode. Quicker estimates by several speakers indicated that
       the sector needs Rs 70,000 crores in the next 10 years.
   o   Explore various options to design, execute, operation and maintain the systems
           o BOOT – Build, own, operate and transfer
           o ROOT – Rehabilitate, own, operate and transfer and any other
   o   The water sector need to unbundle its functions into: a) water procurement,
       b) operation and maintenance, c) distribution & revenue collection, d) pricing
   o   The state needs to improve its performance measurement criteria at all levels of
       the water sector.
   o   Across the related departments, the water sector needs to strengthen skill up
       gradation on a regular basis and
   o   Rejuvenate tanks on sub-basin mode with stakeholders
   o   Need paradigm shift in groundwater management – licencing, local mgmt (eg),
       pump efficiency
   o   The state need to stress on harnessing solar energy in river lifts, rural water
       supplies and in urban water supplies.
   o   The water sector quickly needs to redesign its operation and maintenance policy.

   o   Set up Independent Water Resources Regulation Authority with following
       key responsibilities.
          o Water allocations across sectors –domestic, industrial, agriculture,
          o Design and implement efficient conveying mechanisms from source to
              consumer level – take overall view of the entire state.
          o Water auditing at project level (all projects)
          o Enhance water use efficiency levels.
          o Rationalise water tariff across sectors
          o Performance measurement criteria at all levels
          o Convergence of all related schemes/programmes
o   Setting up institutional mechanisms and facilitating it.
       o For effective resource management, the state needs River Basin
          Organisations. Also to manage competitive demands both in the short
          and long-term periods.
       o It is necessary to develop vision documents, keeping in view of emerging
          demands of rural and urban supplies, at river basin and sub-basin level.
       o Need to focus on Integrated Water Resources Management, in tune with
          the global management practices.
       o Promote rain water harvesting for primary use both in urban and rural
          areas -40%.
       o Simplify procedures and data base management.
       o Capacity building of officials at all level, WUAs, federations
       o Establish coordination cells with agriculture, revenue, environment and
          fisheries departments.
       o Policy and legal framework to support all the above

o   Water Resources Department should play strong role as infrastructure
    creator and a facilitator.
       o Top-priority to utilization of already created potential
       o Provision of quality structures
       o On-time completion
       o Ensuring effective operation of the system and structures.
       o Completion of on-going projects

    o   Management Transfer. Keeping in view of the global trend, and successful
        cases in several countries and within India, Karnataka needs to move
        towards management transfer.
           o Select any 3-5 projects for pilot basis at the level of branch canals.
           o Need to prepare action plan to cover the entire state in 2-3 years.
           o Set up Irrigation Management Transfer cell headed by a Engineer-in-
                Chief or Chief Engineer at the state level and convert one Executive
                Engineer division in all projects to facilitate irrigation management
           o Identify NGOs or professional organizations to facilitate the process.
           o Need to cover both rural and urban water supplies.
    o   Integrating tanks (of all sizes – MI, ZP, GP) with canal command
           o Prepare location, size and feasibility of tank filling in canal commands
                and through canals
           o Develop estimates for additional storage to be gained across the
                projects and districts
           o Need to estimate likely benefits by linking these tanks.

    o   E-governance and Monitoring cell and methods of monitoring
           o Provide and computerize all levels of offices (up to assistanct engineer
              o   Establish geographical information system based water resources
                  (including tanks and groundwater) map to be accessible to all levels
                  of officers (assistant engineer to State level)
              o   On-line grievance cell and 4 digit number for public use
              o   Pollution load estimates in river & streams
              o    Water treatment plants –mandatory

Possible Outcomes

        Most of the speakers have identified possible outcomes, based on the suggested
strategic options. They are:
    o Water to all with easy access and good quality drinking water.
    o Maxiimum utilisation of available water resources – grid pattern
    o Higher use efficiency - irrigation, urban supplies, rural supplies
    o Reuse wastewater across the state – less pressure on fresh water
    o Enhanced & effective infra for regulation and distribution
    o Command areas, regional supplies –urban and rural
    o Weaken the nexus between water and poverty
    o Robust institutional mechanism –best practices in place
    o River Basin Organisations, Irrigation management transfer, effective data base
    o Promote public-private-users partnerships at all levels
    o Above all all these inputs would help in preparing an action plan for 11th Five
        Year Plan.

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