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NEW DIRECTIONS AND NATIONAL LEADERSHIP IN DEVELOPING WATER POLICIES IN FEDERATIONS- INDIA AND AUSTRALIA

IWRA World Water Congress 2003 Madrid Spain
IWRA WWC2003 - default topic
Author(s): Prof Jennifer MCKAY and Diwakara HALANAIK

Prof Jennifer MCKAY and Diwakara HALANAIK 
Director and Member Water Policy and Law Group,  School of International Business, University of South Australia,  City West Campus, Adelaide, South Australia.


Article:

Abstract

There has been a growing realisation in many Federations that the water governance has been hampered and inter State rivalries and other competitive forces have often led to unsustainable water sharing arrangements.  These arrangements have led to over-exploitation of water resources, lack of sharing of water data, lack of compatibility of data sets, water mining by upstream riparians and a host of other problems, which have resulted in economic and environmental degradation.  Indeed, there are serious interstate water sharing disputes in Australia and India at the present time, for example between NSW and Victoria and the Cauvery water dispute   between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Australia and India are two major world Federations and both have recently addressed water-sharing issues nationally. This has relied on hitherto untested powers and combinations of powers in their Constitutions. The text of the reforms in both countries will be examined in detail however the clear aim is to overcome the interstate sharing issues and hence to encourage reforms in water management. The methods proposed and employed by the two Federations will be examined and comments will be made on the types of reforms proposed and the tools selected to achieve the reforms.   There are many case studies available from Australia and India and in particular judicial decisions of late, which tend to provide greater power to the national government than has previously been considered the norm. Indeed the use of international treaties, obligations to promote Ecologically sustainable development and privatisation of water utilities does provide more powers to national governments over water resources than they have enjoyed in the past.

India and Australia have clearly pointed to a new way forward for water management but the question remains, is there enough guidance as to how to implement the new policies?. In particular, how to reverse the deeply held beliefs and expectations in the community as to the use and price of water. In many cases, the existing State level water allocation policies have been unsustainable, under enforced and under priced. All these will need to change to reflect the demands of ecologically sustainable development.

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