Citizens' Issues
India lacks dispute-resolution mechanism over water: Experts
It is "crucial" for India to manage domestic water concerns for enhanced regional cooperation, opine experts, pointing to the urgent need of a "dispute-resolution mechanism" that engages multiple stakeholders and embraces an ecological view of the problem.
 
But given the scale and sensitivity of these discords -- India has seen a spate of such water conflicts this year -- experts lament the absence of a "proper environment" and a structured approach to ease the friction over water.
 
"Water issues are as much an inter-state (country to country) problem as much as they are inter-provincial (discord between Indian states) problems. In fact, the stress increasingly will be more on the inter-provincial sharing of waters, triggering friction between the Centre and the states," Uttam Sinha, an expert on climate change and water security, told IANS.
 
"For India, managing the domestic water concerns is crucial. It directly links to the regional water cooperation," said Sinha, a fellow at New Delhi's Defence Ministry-funded think-tank Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), stressing on a dispute-resolution mechanism.
 
In the aftermath of the Uri terrorist attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met key aides to review provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan and to increase India's use of the river waters. Down south, the Cauvery conflict between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu continues to fester. In the east, the Mahanadi river is a bone of contention between Odisha and Chhattisgarh while Bihar blames the Farakka Barrage in West Bengal for siltation.
 
Compounding the dilemma is the absence of a systematic response to emerging crises in the water sector, ecological economist Anamika Barua highlighted.
 
"The biggest challenge at the moment is lack of agency at the state, national as well as international levels to systematically respond to emerging crises and reinforce cooperation within the country and also 
at the trans-boundary level," Barua, Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT-Guwahati, told IANS.
 
Advocating an "open, inclusive and scientific platform" where states can meet regularly, and not only during emergencies, Barua drew attention to the perils of excluding stakeholders like scientists and civil 
society from closed-door political meetings on these matters.
 
"Many of these conflicts are politically motivated, so it is very difficult to say whether they are real or political parties take advantage of opportunities when they see such crises," said Barua, who is also associated with the SaciWATERs Brahmaputra Dialogue project.
 
Earlier this year, India's water woes pushed the country to the top among 11 nations in The Environmental Justice Atlas, an interactive portal that maps ecological conflicts, resistances and environmental injustices.
 
"It's not just in India that we see these problems. Water has been a source of contention in the US and throughout Europe. And they have always come to agreements about navigation, about environment, about fisheries. It's in India that it hasn't happened. This country doesn't seem to be involved in (the creation of) a proper environment to settle these problems," former Foreign Secretary Kris Srinivasan told IANS.
 
"In China there is a strong central government which can lay down the law but in India, which is a federal country, states have to be involved," Srinivasan emphasised.
 
Even the National Water Framework Bill (NWFB) drafted by the Union Ministry of Water Resources, fails to bring in an adequate framework for dispute resolution, noted environmental economist Nilanjan Ghosh, who recommended a river basin authority (RBA) approach for both international and inter-state water issues.
 
"There is need for a basin-level authority with greater autonomy, greater powers, and which can initiate actions to prevent degradation of freshwater ecosystems and can initiate actions against all kinds of 
stakeholders, including state governments, for any form of violation," Ghosh, professor and head of economics, Observer Research Foundation, Kolkata Chapter, and Senior Economic Advisor, World 
Wide Fund for Nature, told IANS.
 
"We need to start at the bottom... go for a bottom-to-top approach in the river basins which we have not done at all... this means you start at the watershed level and involve the people at the grassroots," Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, told IANS.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Forbes magazine calculates Trump's fortune at USD3.7 billion
The fortune of Republican presidential nominee and real estate magnate Donald Trump currently is estimated at some USD3.7 billion, while his debts exceed $1.13 billion, Forbes magazine said on Wednesday.
 
According to the magazine, Trump, who to date has refused to make public his tax returns claiming that he cannot do so because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service, has seen his fortune decline by some $800 million over the past year, EFE news reported.
 
"Forbes has been scouring Trump's fortune for 34 years. Sometimes he's up, sometimes he down -- and for much of the 1990s he was out of the three-comma club," with a net worth of less than $1 billion, the magazine said.
 
Forbes said that of the 28 assets or asset classes the mogul owns, most of them in real estate, 18 lost value over the past 12 months due, among other things, to the "softening" of the New York real estate market.
 
The jewel in the crown of his empire, Trump Tower on Manhattan's 5th Avenue, is valued at some $471 million, some $159 million less than a year ago, while the debt on the iconic property rose to $100 million.
 
Forbes also provided estimated valuations of other properties owned by Trump such as the 40 Wall Street building, valued at $501 million with a debt of $156 million, and his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, valued at $150 million, some $50 million less than a year ago, EEF news added.
 
The magazine also said that seven of Trump's investments have increased in value over the past year, including San Francisco's second-tallest building -- 555 California Street -- in which he owns a 30% share, valued at $317 million, up $32 million from last year.
 
In addition, the magazine said that the only real estate deal that the billionaire closed this past year was to buy an industrial park in Charleston, South Carolina, valued at some $3.5 million.
 
Forbes also said that Trump has given some $7 million of his money to his election campaign and loaned it another $48 million, although the magazine expressed certainty that he would not recover those expenditures.
 
And Trump's 10 golf courses in six US states plus the District of Columbia were valued at $225 million, including estimated debt of $18.5 million.
 
Meanwhile, the mogul has some $230 million in cash, $97 million less than a year ago, and also owns three helicopters and two private jets valued at some $35 million in total, the magazine said.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Set up mechanism to address taxpayers' grievances, Modi tells officials
Taking cognizance of the grievances expressed by taxpayers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked tax officials to set up a mechanism to deal with their issues and ensure a speedy resolution.
 
Modi on Wednesday chaired his fifteenth interaction through PRAGATI - the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation. 
 
"After reviewing the progress towards implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana, he urged the concerned officials to work towards a uniform set of processes and procedures for utilization of the funds, so as to benefit the backward communities, including tribals, in the mineral rich districts," said a PMO statement.
 
"The review of the progress towards implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana showed that an amount of Rs. 3214 crore has been collected so far by the 12 mineral-rich states, and a much larger amount is expected to be collected in due course," it said.
 
Also reviewing the progress towards handling and resolution of grievances related to income tax administration, he expressed concern over the large number of grievances being expressed by taxpayers. 
 
"A mechanism should be set up to deal with them," he said, urging the officials concerned to use technology to the maximum extent possible, to ensure speedy resolution.
 
Modi also reviewed the progress of infrastructure projects in the road, railway and power sectors, spread over several states including Rajasthan, Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Jammu and Kashmir. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

SRINIVAS SHENOY

8 months ago

What do you think?... Write your comments. I feel that the Modi Government is moving in the right direction. I feel infrastructure which so far earlier was neglected, needs to be given priority for the rapid development of our economy.

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