GHOSH Nilanjan and BANDYOPADHYAY Jayanta Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. D. H. Road, Joka, Kolkata 700104 India
Nilanjan Ghosh (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) is doctoral candidate in Regional Development and Jayanta Bandyopadhyay (Email: email@example.com ) is Professor, Centre for Development and Environment Policy, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Joka, Kolkata 700104 India.
Scarcity of necessary resources induces disputes. Availability of water, the vital resource of global significance, is governed by the hydrological cycle. At different times and in different regions scarcity of water emerges. In recent years, a number of environmental and political analysts have expressed the view that dwindling water resources have the potential of undermining national and international security. Swain (2002) has observed that the social and political tensions caused by water scarcity can threaten existing water distribution pacts. In the words of Homer-Dixon (1994:5-40), Conflict is most probable when a downstream riparian is highly dependent on river water and is strong in comparison to upstream riparians. Downstream riparians often fear that their upstream neighbours will use water as a means of coercion. This situation is particularly dangerous if the downstream country also believes it has the military power The increasing demand on the limited water resources and the associated complexities of the disputes, often aggravating to conflicts between the upstream-downstream riparian states, regions or villages have encouraged new research on several important aspects, that so far did not receive much attention. Most research undertaken in this area has concentrated mainly on the political and strategic aspects of the conflicts and their resolution. In the absence of objective mechanisms for joint decision-making, military threats or crude diplomatic tactics have so far been the dominant instruments used in the resolution of riparian conflicts. In the past few years, important advancements have also been observed towards the generation of a comprehensive and interdisciplinary understanding of the challenges facing water resource management. One crucial aspect of this emerging knowledge base is the process of the gradual recognition and internalisation of the economic values of the ecological services provided by water along the terrestrial path traversed by water from its precipitation to its return to the oceans. As a topic for research, valuation of the water resources, has the potential of producing a more realistic and practical basis for evolving mechanisms for negotiated settlements of the conflicts (Ghosh and Bandyopadhyay, 2002:3). There is no doubt that as and when the methodology for such valuations becomes widely acceptable, new ideas on river basin management will also emerge.