Guwahati, June 6: The World Bank is taking the first step in helping the Northeast manage its water resources in an integrated and optimised manner for multiple benefits.
The proposed US $200 million project christened “Northeast India Water Resources and Institutions Building” has been taken up at the request of the Centre and is currently under discussion with officials of ministry of development of northeastern region, relevant states and other stakeholders.
“The discussions are on how to ensure that the region’s abundant water resources are harnessed to better contribute to poverty reduction and economic development and improve disaster management in this region which is vulnerable to natural disasters,” a World Bank official told The Telegraph.
The project document will be made available by the end of the month so that more details are made available on its shape and likely interventions. Though the region has 30 per cent of the total water resource potential of the country and about 41 per cent of the total hydropower potential, it still has not been able to reap its benefits.
The bank had earlier carried out a study in which it was observed that resources in the Northeast would not lead to growth and development unless institutional mechanisms are right. It also mentioned that water resources management should be looked at from different angles. It, however, emphasised that without active co-operation by states no development or management of rivers of Northeast is possible.
The bank has classified the project under category A for environmental assessment. Category A project is likely to have adverse and unprecedented environmental impact. Such impact may affect an area broader than the sites or facilities subject to physical works.
Partha Das, programme head, water, climate and hazard programme of Aaranyak, said it is high time the state adopts a specific policy for integrated management of flood, riverbank erosion and land degradation in order to streamline the entire flood governance mechanism.
“We firmly believe the existing governance of flood management needs to be radically reformed,” Das said.
Das said climate change is having and will continue to have a significant impact on our water regime but knowledge of the nitty-gritty of such impacts is limited. “We do not have adequate database of our water resources and it has become important to mainstream climate change implications in water governance as a whole, for which formulation of a new policy will be required,” he added.
Aaranyak is holding a consultation forum on water governance in Assam on June 9 to identify the most important water related issues in the state and to formulate a set of effective strategies for effective mitigation.