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Workshop on Water Conflicts in India


Water conflicts in India:

Legal and Institutional Framework for Conflict Prevention and Resolution


“The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has provided the institutional space for consultative processes for stakeholders as part of adjudication”, said Justice Swatanter Kumar, Chairperson of NGT, Delhi. He was delivering the keynote address during the inaugural function of the two day training programme on  “Water Conflicts in India: Legal and Institutional Framework for Conflict Prevention and Resolution” on 6-7 September at National Law University Delhi (NLUD). The training programme was organised by NLUD, NGT, Environment Law Research Society (ELRS) and Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India (Forum). In the keynote address Justice Swatenter Kumar also emphasised on the need for proper implementation of the orders. He also praised the Indian Parliament for creating NGT as an important environmental governance institution. Prof.Rambir Singh, Vice Chancellor of NLUD welcomed the guests and the participants. K. J. Joy, coordinator of the Forum explained the context and the rationale for organsing such a training programme. Shri Mohan Pieris PC, former Chief Justice and Attorney General of Sri Lanka and Prof.Amita Singh of Jawaharlal University also spoke on the occasion. Prof. G S Bajpai, Registrar, NLUD, proposed the vote of thanks. 


The Forum took the initiative to organise this training programme as there is a widespread feeling that as a society we have not been to deal with water conflicts in a socially and environmentally just manner. Very often these conflicts end up in courts or NGT which as become an important institution for environmental governance. The legal professionals have a big role to in helping prevent/resolve conflicts according to an understanding of water in all its complexities. Thus the underlying idea of organising this training programme was to ensure that there exists a broader pool of people in the profession and outside who are aware of the complexity of issues in water as a resource in general and water law in particular and are ready to apply principles and concepts that exists in the legal framework but are seldom applied. There is also a need to further develop the framework if we have to address the new issues and wide ranging changes taking pale in the water sector. 


About 35 persons drawn from different professional and disciplinary background, including a few law students, participated in the training progamme.


The topics covered in the training programme included: 1) The bio-physical and socio-cultural peculiarities of water, 2) Legal framework around irrigation and river basin planning, 3) Water rights: From land-based usufructuary rights to tradable rights and the fundamental right to water, 4) Inter-linking of rivers: Federalism, ecology and transboundary conflicts, 5) Law, Water and Environment: Engagement with the NGT, 6) Inter-sectoral water allocation, use and conflict, 7) Groundwater: its characteristics and the legal regime, 8) Inter-state and transboundary water conflicts, 9) Rivers, pollution and the law, and 10) Water law and its complexity in theory and practice. The resource persons included K. J. Joy, Videh Upadhyay, Philippe Cullet, HimanshuThakkar, AkashVashishtha, Sujith Koonan, Srinivas Chokkakula, Manoj Misra, and M. S.Vani. The training programme ended with a panel discussion on the topic, “Legal and Institutional Framework for Water Conflict Prevention and Resolution in India: Issues, Prospects and way Forward”, chaired by Shri Mohan Pieris PC, former Chief Justice and Attorney General of Sri Lanka. Panellists included Navnet Vibhav, Manoj Misra, Philippe Cullet and K. J. Joy. Shri Sidharth Dahiya from NLUD proposed the vote of thanks. Dr.Niraj Kumar and Dr.Bharti of NLUD helped in the planning and organising of the training programme.