The employees of the Central Water Commission (CWC) have slammed the Mihir Shah panel, calling its recommendations on water reforms “conceptually flawed”, “anti-development” and something that will result in “disaster of unmatched proportions”.
The seven-member expert panel, headed by Mihir Shah, former member of the erstwhile Planning Commission, was appointed by the Ministry of Water Resources to suggest institutional reforms in the water sector. The committee submitted its report, titled “A 21st Century Institutional Architecture for India’s Water Reforms”, last month.
One of the main recommendations of the panel is to disband the CWC and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), two of the biggest water organisations, and create a multi-disciplinary National Water Commission in their place. The panel has also called for greater involvement of professionals from social sciences, management and other specialised disciplines and reduce reliance on engineers who man the CWC.
The CWC has sent a strong note to Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati, complaining against the committee’s recommendations. It has said the committee’s “anti-dam” and “anti-development” approach would affect India’s food security, and its over-reliance on groundwater would lead to “severe difficulties in management and social harmony”. Some of its other recommendations would also lead to tension between the Centre and states, and even jeopardise India’s strategic interests, the CWC claimed.
CWC employees met Mihir Shah Wednesday and told him that measures suggested by the committee would lead to “thirst and hunger” and “fury of floods and droughts” that would become unmanageable.
The CWC has castigated the panel for raising questions over the river inter-linking project. “It would not be in national interest if such a longstanding policy is abandoned on the basis of a report,” the CWC told the minister.