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Executive summary for OAC

i) Project Title: “Evolution of water rights in Rajasthan.”

ii) Organization: Jal Bhagirathi Foundation
iii) Reporting Officer: Shri Prithviraj Singh
iv) Faculty Guide: Professor Vishwa Ballabh
v) Students’ Name: Amrita Hazra, Neha Agarwal, Nikhil Rathi

Objectives: The objectives of the project are as follows:

1. To study the nature and types of rights and responsibilities over water and how they evolved, over a
period of time, in Rajasthan.
2. To study the interactions between customary and legal rights over water and how they affect the
management of water resources.
3. To study the relevance of water policies in addressing the needs related to water.
4. To prepare a document encompassing the above mentioned issues that can be used by the
organisation for further discussions at various levels.

Scope: The geographical scope of the study is the state of Rajasthan. The study primarily addresses some
of the social and legal aspects related to water, although wherever relevant in these contexts, the technical
and engineering aspects have also been adequately addressed.

Methodology: The methodology followed was a mix of techniques. The study is mainly based on
secondary sources of data. But wherever necessary, primary data is also collected.

Sources of Data: The primary sources of data include semi structured interviews with the field staffs and
the community organizers, detailed discussions with the resource managers and visiting the project areas to
have a first hand knowledge of the situation.
Secondary sources comprise discussions with subject experts, books and other documents, internet, data
from government departments, published reports of the organization, etc.

Findings: The issue of water management is vast and has numerous aspects and complexities. “Water
rights” is one of the most important aspects of this issue but still it is relatively neglected.
The rights over water are mainly of two types: “Customary and legal”. Customary rights are evolutionary
by nature and do not appear or disappear suddenly whereas the legal rights are more sudden in their
appearance and disappearance. These legal rights impact the preexisting customary rights to a large extent
and it is the interaction between these two types of rights that forms the basis of ownership, control and
management of water resources. Further we find that, until issues like who owns water and who is going to
manage it are resolved, the subsequent issues like how to manage it, cannot be addressed properly.

Recommendations: The issue of rights and control over water is a complicated one and needs extensive
study and discussions at various levels. The organization should raise it at various levels like state, national
and international conferences on water so that this relatively neglected issue gets its due importance.
The organisation should be very cautious before making any recommendations or suggesting solutions to
the existing problems considering the complex nature and high stakes related to this issue of water rights
and ownerships. Various pros and cons must be taken into account since the issue concerns every single
human being and the damages may be huge even because of one wrong action.

Conclusion: The project was an enriching experience that allowed us to know different aspects related to
water management. The approach of the organisation in these regards is quite objective and it seems to be
neither averse nor obsessed by any approach, viz, traditional or modern. This allowed us to look at the
problem from different angles. And finally we feel that in the present times, no single agency or approach
seems to be capable enough to solve the problem of water management on its own and it can be achieved
only through their working in tandem with each other.