Do water related issues really matter in Parliament?

Published: Thursday 15 May 2008

Down to Earth
Down to Earth
Down to Earth

Down to Earth Parliament, the highest legislative body in India, plays a significant role in formulating national policies. It is, therefore, pertinent to find the concern the parliamentarians (mps) and political parties show and the priorities they accord to issues during parliamentary discussions

Down to Earth A statistical analysis, based on the number of questions raised in Lok Sabha, between May 2004 and March 2008, shows that of the total 57,744 questions, only 4,241 (seven per cent) were on water-related issues

Down to Earth Down to Earth Most of these were on rivers, with primary focus on inter-basin water disputes and infectious diseases triggered by floods. Irrigation-related questions only came next to river issues.Water quality-related issues were given the last priority; mps raised only 260 questions on the subject

Down to Earth About 19 per cent of water quality-related questions were to the health and family welfare ministry, 33 per cent to the rural development ministry

Down to Earth About 89 per cent of the questions were regarding service providers and 50 per cent on water quality monitoring issues. Nine per cent of the questions were on technological solutions, 8 per cent on desalination and only 5 per cent on industrial waste--a major groundwater and surface-water polluter

Down to Earth More than 40 per cent of the water-related questions were to the urban development ministry while rest were to the water resources and the rural development ministries

Down to Earth Most of these questions were raised under the rule 377 that permits 12 mps to raise their issues in a day. Their names are selected on the basis of their party strength in Lok Sabha. The matter is discussed only after question hour and other issues in a day's agenda get over

Down to Earth Down to Earth Most of the questions raised in Parliament were on the status and coverage of government schemes; very few talked of the quality and sustainability of water sources. Issues requiring coordinated efforts of two or more ministries were barely taken up for discussion and those related to governance failure did not find a mention at all

Though policy-related issues are expected to be the primary focus of parliamentary proceedings, between May 2004 and March 2008, parliamentarians raised only 23 policy-related questions

Water vs Other issues—
Rules under which water issues are discussed
Rule Water All issues Percentage
Rule 55 (half-an-hour discussion) 1 11 9
Adjournment Motion 0 9 0
Rules 193-196 (Short duration discussion) 10 88 11
Rule 197 (Calling attention) 10 111 9
Private Member Resolutions / Bills 3 343 1
Matters under rule 377 (issues that
cannot be raised under any other rule)
256 3007 9

Source Nidhi Prabha Tewari, Democracy Connect

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