*Place – Puri Odisha*
Date- 8-9 May 2023
The People’s World Commission on Drought and Flood (PWCDF), an independent body established and headquartered at Sweden held its First General Body Assembly Meeting of the Indian Chapter at Puri, Odisha, India on 8th and 9th of May. This was jointly organized with Lok Seva Mandal (LSM), (Servants of the People Society, Odisha Branch).
The assembly was attended by over 100 delegates from 11 states of the country, representing diverse river basins. The more than 30 participants from Odisha also represented different river basins.
After 2 days deliberations and discussions, the following resolutions were passed:
1. Looking at the present crisis of rivers across the globe, including India and Odisha, in the context of climate change, a Legislation pertaining to River Rights has become imperative and hence, Government of India must come up with a Bill in the coming Parliament Session.
2. Rivers are threatened by three major challenges: Over-Exploitation, Encroachment and Pollution. The government at centre and state must prevent these threats in the pursuit of sustainability.
3. There is urgent need of connecting the community/people with the river. Hence, river-literacy programs should be made mandatory by governments and supported by civil society.
4. The vital importance of small rivers and streams must be recognised, given their importance in contributing to larger river health and to the livelihoods of communities and nature rejuvenation. The revival of these streams are also important from the perspective of climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience. These small streams and rivers therefore need to be revived through community-centred water conservation measures.
5. In each river, big or small, there must be a people’s organization/nadi-sansad which should take up issues concerning that river. The general assembly will appeal to the civil society to create such community organizations for decentralized management of rivers.
6. Inter-state river basins conflicts have become a major challenge before us. The laws pertaining to resolution of this conflict have been inadequate to resolve the conflict. Hence necessary amendment in the existing laws is imperative .
7. There is no scope for civil society intervention in the matters before the river tribunals. The assembly strongly demands that there should be scope for civil society intervention in the river tribunal adjudication process.
8. The general assembly endorses the formation of People’s Mahanadi Commission proposed by Mahanadi Bachao Andolan and decides to extended all support in terms of national and international expertise.
9. For each river there must be a documentation of the mythical, spiritual, natural, geo-hydrological, ecological, economic and all other aspects, urban and rural, so that we may resolve unique manner of addressing the river protection and rejuvenation by civil society.
10. The assembly resolved to undertake 100 community driven projects for flood and drought mitigation across India.
11. The general assembly appeals to the people and governments of Chattisgarh and Odisha states to enter a process of consultation, negotiation and resolution of river-water conflicts, beyond the purview of the tribunal.
*Place – Puri Odisha*