Inter State Water Disputes in India: Institutions and Policies
In this paper we argue that Indian water-dispute settlement mechanisms are ambiguous and opaque. We distinguish analytically between situations where cooperation is possible, and situations of pure conflict, where the initial allocation of rights is at stake. In the latter case, a search for a negotiated solution may be futile, and quick movement to arbitration or adjudication may be more efficient. However, in India, the process is slow, and effectively binding arbitration does not exist. The entanglement of inter-state water disputes with more general center- state conflicts and political issues compounds problems. We argue that these impacts can be reduced by a more efficient design of mechanisms for negotiating inter-state water disputes: some of the possibilities include a national water commission independent of daily political pressures, a federated structure incorporating river basin authorities and water user associations, and fixed time periods for negotiation and adjudication.
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