An article on Kathmandu Post dated March 22, originally titled: What can India learn from China? Is there any field in which India can learn from China ? The author believes that China’s water governance can provide useful experience to India.
The research results from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in National University of Singapore show that both India and China, as the largest developing and water scarce countries in the world, face problems of water crisis caused by the rapid urbanization and industrialization as well as the problem of pollution and reduced utilization of water for irrigation.
But the difference between the two countries is in their flood prevention measures. For example, the main method to solve the water (and energy) crisis in China is to build a number of large scale dams and water diversion canals. Since the 1950s , China has built about 22000 medium-sized dams (at least 15 m), including the world’s largest — Three Gorges Dam and the South-North Water Transfer Project. These hydro-power projects have helped China achieve rapid industrialization, urbanization and economic growth.
In contrast, in India it is difficult to build a dam, because there is conflict of interest between different Indian states and different user groups, and there can be many opposing parties in a democratic system. Furthermore, India’s regional governments do not have the engineering, finance, management and political strength to take on a large-scale dam construction project.
Many Chinese leaders have been trained in water management and Chinese universities also have world-class water conservancy majors. In addition, because China’s energy and water conservancy related State owned enterprises hold more power to some extent, they have the capacity to make a difference. But the political power of India’s water conservancy institutions is weakened by opposition parties. In China, water conservancy has always ranked high on the political agenda, amongst the most important.. This is not the case in India, except when New Delhi is hit by a drought.
The achievements and determination of water governance in China are compelling. Over the past 5 years, China has already solved drinking water safety problems for more than 300 million people living in the countryside. Now, China ambitiously plans to reduce per capita water consumption by 23% in the next 5 years. This year alone, China will begin building 20 large-scale water conservancy projects.