Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Water Woes

The Cauvery tribunal took 16 years to reach a verdict and as expected it hasn't satisfied all the parties concerned. Karnataka feels let down, so does Kerala. So far Tamil Nadu seems happy with the verdict but I expect in the coming days they too will feel cheated ( or at least pretend to feel cheated). The verdict is in, but the issue has not gone away and it would be a miracle if it goes away. At the root of the dispute, is the question of how the water in river should be shared.

My take on the issue is that there are two different questions in this issue and resolution is possible if they are separated. The first question is who owns the water ? The second question is who should be allowed to use it ?

The answer to the second question is simpler. People who are willing to pay get to use the water. There are broadly two types of users. Those that use the water for navigation, fishing, recreation etc and those that use for irrigation,industry and domestic purposes. The first set of users do not lessen the quantity of water by their usage. The second set do lessen the quantity of water by using it. The first set should probably be pay an annual fixed price and the second set should pay in proportion to the usage.

The first question is more complex. Going forward, we can expect water to become a sufficiently scarce commodity. The aim of defining the ownership of water, should be to encourage increasing the amount of water that is available in the river. The main contributors to increasing the amount of water in the river would be communities in the catchment area & communities in the flow area. These communities should own the water in the river. They should be allowed to manage the flow ( through Dams etc ), use the water & sell the water. Land ownership in these areas could be used as proxies for arriving at water ownership with higher weight given to lands in catchment areas.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

An ill advised ordinance

From The Hindu Govt clears ordinance to ensure sports feed on DD

With just weeks to go for the cricket World Cup, the government today approved promulgation of an ordinance, making it mandatory for private broadcasters to share live feed of important sporting events with public broadcaster Prasar Bharati.
The decision will ensure that millions of cricket lovers in non-cable houses and radio listeners would receive live feed of Indian team's one-day matches, wherever it plays. However, for test matches, the government has said live feed would be required only for matches played in India while for those played abroad, the highlights would be sufficient.
Time for the cricket/sports fans to celebrate? Not really. The government may succeed ( if it can defend the legal challenges that are bound to follow) in creating an illusion, that it has got sporting action to everyone who has access to a TV set for free. But did any one tell them that there are no free lunches? The likely result of this move, would be lesser money in the hands of sports bodies. Is any one going to bid fancy prices for sporting events in India in the future? Lesser money in the hand of sports bodies means either lower spending on developing the sport or larger handouts from the government to keep the sport going.

Is any one going to try developing a PHL type tournament in any other sport ? No ! For the moment it is successful, DD will walk in and take away the advertising rupees that one was counting on. So Indian sports, like Indian education, can now wait for philanthropic hand outs.