Measures Recommended for a



India has a 7500 km long coastline, about 1200 islands and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) spread over 2.2 million square km. It has ports and industrial hubs along the coast. 90 percent of India's trade (by volume) is by sea.

The 1993 Mumbai blasts pointed to vulnerability along India's coastline and the terrorist attack of 26 Nov 2011, revealed glaring weakness in the Coastal Security. Securing India's coastline and the EEZ involves multifarious agencies such as shipping, fisheries, customs, off share exploration / production agencies, tourism, scientific community, port authorities, coastal state/UT government and the state / UT local police. Coordination among them is a Herculean task. Coastal State / UT governments have been reluctant partners in overall coastal schemes.

Coastal Security Threat Perception

Coastal security implies protection of assets and infrastructure along the coast, preventing illegal exploitation of marine and mineral resources within the EEZ, freedom of navigation along the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) for merchant fleets and facilitating the nation's economy, including the “blue economy,” to grow.

Coastal Security aims to achieve the following :

  • By continuous surveillance, monitor all activities in India's territorial waters, contiguous seas and EEZ
  • Counter infiltration attempts and attacks from state and non-state actors.
  • Prevent illegal economic exploitation of marine and mineral resources from the sea.
  • Prevent smuggling of arms, explosives, drugs and other contraband material.
  • Counter acts of piracy, hijacking and criminal acts.
  • Act against the presence of unseaworthy vessels.

Setting up a Robust Coastal Security Network

Coastal security should be tiered in nature, with responsibility for each tier be allotted to a force which has the wherewithal and training for its task. During hot pursuit, the tier system may not be considered sacrosanct. There should be seamless flow of intelligence, with each tier having built-in capability to react first in its area of responsibility.

There is a requirement of a dedicated central force for coastal security under the Ministry of Home Affairs. There must be synergy between all agencies (Coastal Security Force, Coast Guard and Navy) which will be effected through periodic meeting and regular cross-training / exercises.

Marine Police

Till 26/11, Coastal States / UTs did not have any element of the local police looking the coastal waters. After 26/11 they were instructed to raise a Marine Police wing to patrol coastal seas upto 5km. However, the States/ UTs resorted to ad hoc measures, leading to the creation of a force incapable of carrying out its tasks. Coastal Police Stations are understaffed and operations suffer due to lack of suitable manpower. Poor training and lack of incentives to cover high risk inherent in such operations have largely been responsible for the inefficient setup. The setting up of the National Academy on Coastal Policing at Okha in District Dwarka, Gujarat is a commendable start. It is being piloted by the Bureau of Police Research and Development, with a core team from the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and BSF. The following additional measures need to be adopted to address the shortcomings :
  • Include personnel from the fishing community who are adept at operating in differing sea conditions. Lack of educational qualification should not be a barrier for recruitment.
  • The present training of marine policemen, conducted by the Coast Guard, is barely of four weeks duration, whereas recruits selected to join the Indian Navy or Coast Guard undergo nearly two and half years training. Marine police should be imparted training for one year at least to enable them to operate efficiently on the seas. A Central Coastal Force training institute should be set up for training personnel selected for Marine Police forces. This institute may also be made responsible for upgradation training and specialised training.
  • Due to the ad hoc measures adopted to equip the Marine police, boats purchased are lying unused due to the lack of training in handling and maintenance issues. Training and long-term maintenance should be built into contracts with the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM).
  • Jetties are required to be constructed for Marine Police craft. These should be constructed at the earliest or regular berthing space taken on long term lease from ports. Presently, the Marine Police craft are encroaching on the Fisheries Department Jetties.

Exploiting the Human Resource Capital of the Coastal Community

Interaction of the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Police with the coastal community should institutionalised. Intelligence Bureau, Customs and Enforcement Directorate should also be incorporated in such interactions.

Schools for the children from the fishing community, on lines of Sainik Schools should be set up to draw young sailors for the Coast Guard, Marine Police and similar agencies.

 Registration of Sea Going Vessels

At present registration of sea going vessels above 20 meters in length is compulsory. However registration is not mandatory for vessels below 20 meters (a large number). It is also not compulsory for these vessels to have GPS and VHF / HF communication sets on board. The following should be made compulsory for them :

  • It should be mandatory for all types of vessels going to sea or operating in backwaters/ rivers/lakes, irrespective of size, to have compulsory registration (as is the case with vehicles on land) with the port / coastal authorities. This will enable identification of owners, also.
  • Every sea going vessel should be equipped with VHF / HF communication equipment and GPS compatible identification.
  • Post 26/11, while initiatives were taken up to issue personal identity cards to coastal sea going communities, even now boats are often manned by personnel who lack identification/ verification of antecedents, hailing from different parts of the country. Crew manning sea going vessels should be in possession of suitable identity cards, post police verification. Maintaining record of the crew should also be mandatory.

Regulating Landing Points

The coastline has numerous landing points suitable for small vessels. Illegal activities like transfer of personnel or material can easily take place from these as it is difficult to maintain fool proof surveillance or security cover. State Governments need to identify and promulgate landing points and monitor movement at these. This would enable concerned agencies to be warned of undesirable activities taking place at unauthorised points, particularly if coastal communities are also involved. Coastal Police Stations should be given adequate legal powers and capabilities to check all landing points under their beat.
Closer interaction with coastal communities, including fisherman would make them feel as a part of the overall security setup. They need to be apprised that restrictions placed on their normal activities by the Police, Coast Guard or Navy are to protect them. Own agencies and establishments too must take care to keep the interest of the coastal communities in mind when placing curbs and restrictions.

Response Mechanism

Notwithstanding relations with neighbours, an assertive posture is necessary for operations on the high seas. On receipt of actionable intelligence, the first respondent should be the one nearest to the point where hostile / illegal activity is reported to be taking place. The Naval ship / Coast Guard vessels can build up to augment the forces. Helicopters aboard naval ships and ready availability of MARCOS should facilitate early response. Technological up-gradation and augmenting monitoring and surveillance capability must continue.

Maritime Domain Awareness

India has undertaken to share information on the seas with its neighbours, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. All relevant information would ultimately be fed to the International Fusion Centre in Gurugram. Cooperation from the neighbours would contribute immensely to aid Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). However, there is need to have a centralised system to collate information from all sources to include, HUMINT, Coastal surveillance radar systems Satellite imagery and other electronic sensors and electro optic sensors that are likely to be deployed, as presently there is no institutional architecture to collate all this information into intelligence and disseminate it in real time. For this the structure and functioning of the Joint Operations Centre's set up need to be strengthened.

Equipment Procurement

To standardize the profile of seagoing vessels and craft needed by the Marine Police, Customs and other agencies as also communication equipment, the qualitative requirement for them should be issued by one agency only, preferably the Navy in conjunction with Coast Guard.

The vessels being procured should include craft that can ply in shallow waters like airboats and Air Cushion Vehicles. The life cycle maintenance, provision of spares and tying up with OEM's for in-situ maintenance to reduce down time of any piece of equipment should also be contracted simultaneously.

Port Security

India has 16 major and 227 minor ports. Major ports have been assigned CISF security. 64 minor ports handle export-import cargo, 54 of which are International Ship and Port Facility Code (ISPS) compliant, while 10 are not. 163 ports lack requisite security. Even six years after sanction two major ports still do not have radiation detection equipment. 64 ports handling export-import cargo have no radiation detection equipment.

The provision of security to minor ports is the responsibility of the Coastal State Governments through their State Maritime Boards. The channel between anchorage (where a ship is anchored) to the port is about one to two kilometres. This area is very vulnerable to crime.

Port congestion, poor management and lack of facilities for dredging, mechanization and storage, effect operations to provide security and optimise capacity of ports. The new Maritime Agenda aims to quadruple cargo throughput by 2020, but most Indian ports are already operating at close to 100% capacity and any enhancement will require massive expansion programmes. Considerable planning and investment is required to bring Indian ports to international standards. In addition, hinterland connectivity in terms of efficient railroad and fast highway connections also need to be upgraded along with development of ports. Port security will be a vital factor in the mission to increase ports enhanced capacities.

Facilitating a Blue Economy

The livelihood of the population along the coast is linked to fishing. The Indian Fisheries Act has been in operation since 1897. Based on it coastal States/UTs have drafted their legislation. Fishing by non-mechanised and mechanised vessels has been laid down by each state/UT separately. However, uniform closure for 47 days is dictated for the East and West coasts during different periods by the Central government. One of the factors that is affecting the catch of the fishermen using non-mechanised craft is allowing industrial pollutants to flow into the sea. This has adversely affected marine life. Intervention by the Centre and National Green Tribunal is strongly recommended.

Nations that have a large community dependent on the sea for their livelihood have undertaken measures to augment the catches of fishing vessels and the variety of the catch. Fish Aggregating Devices tethered to the seabed are put up to attract fish and augment the catch of fishing vessels. Since such devices cannot be deployed by individual fishermen or groups of fishermen these should be undertaken by the State / UT governments or the Central Government.

Central Coastal Security Force

Coastal Security hinges on pro-active participation of State / UT Governments. This is often lacking. Though there are a number of Central Government Ministries and departments involved, but there is no single agency having overall authority. Unlike the deployment of BSF and ITBP along India's land borders which are under the Ministry of Home Affairs and managed by the Department of Border Management in the same Ministry, Coastal security is primarily the responsibility of Indian Navy and Coast Guard which is under the Ministry of Defence. This by itself is a major functional anomaly. Even the Marine Police is not under the Home Ministry being the local Police of the State/UT and as by the fact that local policing is a State subject.

Considering the many issues involved and lack of State / UT focus on this aspect of national security, there is a need to create a Coastal Security Force on the lines of the BSF with similar legal jurisdiction along the coast in a swathe five km into the sea from the base line and five km inland too, a total band of 10 km including land and sea. Also, since this zone is prone to crime which is the responsibility of the local police, therefore the local police should have Police Stations adjacent to the Coastal Security Force Posts to assist in curbing criminal activity and its investigations.


India has continued to be a target of terrorist attacks for over three decades. Coastal security is axiomatic to India's security and development goals. The tiered concept of security provided by the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Police incorporating the Customs, Ports authority and Fisheries department is fundamentally sound. Round the clock vigil through assertive posture and deployment and optimized response capability should be the order of the day. While the Navy is anointed the lead authority for coastal security, the desired level of synergy between all ministries, departments and agencies continues to be lacking.

Designating landing points and monitoring these needs to commence at the earliest. Similarly, registration of all seagoing vessels of all sizes should also be expeditiously undertaken. Ownership of fishing vessels and verification of the crew also needs to be undertaken on a war footing. To implement these provisions for the states the Marine Police needs to be strengthened, suitably manned, equipped and very well trained.

Guarding the coast should be viewed the same as guarding the land borders of the country. Multiple agencies under no central controlling authority is the bĂȘte noire for accountability. Creating a Central Coastal Security Force like the BSF is the need of the hour, along with this Central Training Institute for training and specialisation should also be set up.





In the White paper presented by the Hon’ble Minister of Railways (MR) in 2014, it was highlighted that in the preceding 64 years Freight Loading had increased by 1344% and Passenger KM by 1642%, whereas Route KM had increased by just 23%. Years of under investment were responsible for the overstretched and over-stressed infrastructure to such an extent that over 60% of the routes are being utilised beyond 100% of their capacity. The challenge confronting the Railways is enormous, and having identified it the enormity, IR in 2014 decided to undertake massive investments for expansion and rejuvenation of the network, improvement of passenger amenities and adopting a customer focused approach, embarking on a medium term plan entailing an expenditure of Rs. 8,56,000 crores. This investment has been sourced from the General Budgetary Support (GBS), Internal Generation and Extra Budgetary Resources in the form of market borrowings by the Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC), Institutional Financing and through Public Private Participation (PPP) in IR projects. Concerns have been expressed regarding the increasing burden of debt servicing and low growth in traffic and earnings.
The Think Tank recommendations are enumerated in the succeeding paragraphs.

Financial Aspects

IR’s Finances should comprise a judicious mix of Revenue surplus (Internal Generation) to the extent of 25-30% of the Annual Infrastructure Plan, GBS to the tune 30% with the remaining being raised via market borrowings and PPP.

Railways must prioritise projects to be financed through debt to those that can be completed in less than 36 months and result in a clear increase in top line revenues.
Railways must not borrow for non-remunerative projects like remote area connectivity, defence lines etc. unless GBS supports complete debt financing.
Railways have a huge shelf size of stagnant projects for which the following action should be taken :-

  • Freeze stagnant/ongoing works not required for throughput enhancement – works that have low or even negative internal rate of return (IRR).
  •  Reduce shelf of active and remunerative projects to a level that can be funded on an assured basis, having regard to the capacity for construction in the economy.
Tariff Rationalization
  • Altering the Traffic Mix Carried. Traffic mix carried on IR needs to be altered. No stream of passenger traffic (except Rajdhani etc.) breaks even. Therefore, barring Suburban sections in selected cities, IR needs to start weaning away from short/medium distance passenger traffic (this could be handled by the roadways). Railways should retain only long distance passenger traffic while resorting to tariff rationalization, namely increasing passenger fares over short and medium distances.
  • Revising Passenger Tariffs. Passengers tariffs are very low, recovering only around 50% of the cost incurred. Passenger fares should be revised upward regularly, to offset inflation at least. The upward revision in passenger fares should be progressive, in succeeding budgets and not left to the Railway Development Authority. (In the Electricity sector, despite provisions in the Indian Electricity Act 2003, State Regulatory Commissions have not been able to remove major distortions in electricity tariffs for over a decade).
  • Reduction of Freight Tariffs. Freight tariffs to be reduced appropriately. This would enable Railways to win back traffic from the road sector and make the organization vibrant, subsisting on volumes.
PPP. For financing via the PPP route, IR needs to make the investment remunerative and viable in the eyes of investors through selection of robust projects with a credible and healthy IRR with strong and steady cash flows. Railways should also create a Risk Assessment and Risk Mitigation framework by providing Government Guarantees and securities in the form of charge on the assets being created. Avoid ‘big brother’ attitude and provide level playing field to the Private investors with risk being shared by both, the IR and private players.
Railways must think of disinvestment to raise resources. Production units may be auctioned in part or full. As a first step Production units may be converted to Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) under Ministry of Railways.
Reduce the unit cost of transportation by better productivity and generating capacity. Mission of raising average speed of goods train to 50 kmph and Passenger Trains to 80 kmph to be pursued vigorously. Payload to tare weight ratio should be improved by introducing modern wagons.
IR could leverage its physical asset base to raise very significant amount of funds, like sale and lease back of assets (other than land) and sale of equity in selected Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).

To contain Energy costs, IR should make substantial investments in power generation to secure the advantage of ‘Deemed Licensee’ and lower tariff.

Automation of Ticket Checking & Reservation
  •  Ticket Checking. IR incurs recurring revenues losses on account of ticketless travel. Ticket checking methods are outdated and manual. Metro type entry and exit can be provided at stations for blocking of unauthorised passengers. Also, provide metro type electronic card/ tickets for Suburban services.
  • Managing Reserved Tickets. All ticket checking staff to be provided with hand held ticket checking equipment. Passengers with reserved seats to be checked by ticket checking staff with hand held devices and main frame computer updated. Ticket checking, cancellation and allotment of seats should be through these devices at the stations as well as on the trains. In this way substantial recurring leakage of revenue due to manual allotment would be checked.

Improving Passenger Amenities & Enhancing Passenger   Experience

General. Passenger Amenities and ExperienceAfter the 2018 budget, the Railway Minister, stated that he has a vision – “to transform the IR into the most preferred mode of transportation by the people of India by 2022”. Safety and Passenger Amenities would continue to be the focus areas. In every budget there is an emphasis on improving passenger amenities. However, budgetary provision in the past has been very meagre to make a perceptible ‘dent and feel’ among the customers. Lately, there has been a substantial increase in the allocation under this head and a quantum improvement in ‘Passenger amenities and Passenger delight’ is expected. The criterion for classification of stations for the provision and scale of passenger amenities has been recently revised from earnings only to earnings and footfall. Works are being undertaken for station redevelopment at more than 600 stations besides other Passenger amenities. Recommendations to reinforce the efforts of IR to enhance Passenger delight are enumerated in the following paragraphs.

Additional General Class Trains. Run additional General class trains, introducing a new sitting class of reserved travel, with a charge for reservation and new classification. This will enhance the passenger delight of the very large number of passengers who travel in General class unreserved over long distances - a nightmarish experience. (The option of reserved sitting accommodation in second class on long distance trains is not available at present.) 

Reintroduce AC chair cars on long distance trains like erstwhile AC chair car in Rajdhani and Deluxe trains. This would increase capacity, earnings and passenger satisfaction.

Introduce a concept of ‘Computer Generated Clone trains’ depending on the size of the waiting list. Passengers will get a confirmed ticket on these trains. The concept of special trains can then be given up, because their capacity is not fully utilised due to ignorance of customers who normally look for listed trains.

Double Decker trains have not been successful due to problem of dust and high fares. They can be introduced and replicated with fare structure on marginal costing. It will add to the capacity of trains.

Punctuality of trains has been deteriorating and seems to have been given the back seat. Punctuality of trains is an index of efficient operations as well as passenger satisfaction and delight. Efforts should be made to make the punctuality of trains a sacrosanct goal for all concerned.

Provide washed and fully watered rakes at originating stations. There is a perpetual shortage of water in coaching depots and as a result rakes are not washed as per standards except Premier trains. Water conservation / Recycling plants have to be made essential part of coaching depots.

Bio toilets have proliferated in a big way on non-premium trains and there is an ambitious program to equip all coaches with them. The efficacy of bio toilets is not yet established and there is a talk of stench emanating from them and their getting clogged on account of foreign material thrown into them by passengers. There is a need to make a midway evaluation in respect of the Bio toilets (which digest human waste by anaerobic bacteria) by an independent agency, before proceeding with their further installation and choosing between them and vacuum toilets, which are proven and in service with foreign railways.

Cleanliness at stations should be under the charge of one agency only and not multiple agencies as at present. Modern Mechanised systems should be used with measurable indicators of cleanliness like shine index. It should be a unified, outsourced system which not only looks at cleanliness but also maintenance of public interface area including electrical/mechanical/ electronic fittings and equipment.

Display Inside Coaches of Running Trains. Each coach to be provided with an internal LED display Board, which displays the current status of the train and any other vital information to be conveyed to the passengers.

Parcel traffic by regular trains causes hindrance to passenger movement on platforms. It sometimes causes loss of punctuality due to delay in loading / unloading. Parcel trolleys cause damage to the platform surface. Parcel special trains should be run from Parcel terminals / Platforms. CONCOR to take lead in aggregating parcel traffic and providing last mile connectivity.

Manpower Planning (Human Resource)

General. Staff strength of IR was 13.08 lakhs in March 2017. There are more than 2 lakh vacancies in Groups C & D. More than 1 lakh are said to be in safety categories. IR has recently embarked upon a massive recruitment drive to fill up 93,357 vacancies, mostly in safety categories like Trackman, Gateman, Loco Pilots and technicians etc.  Average wage of group C & D staff is about Rs 8.83 lakhs/yr.  Large scale induction of staff will result in additional expenditure to the order of Rs 9000 crores, annually. It may lead to a further deterioration in the already compromised Operating Ratio and calls for innovative and revolutionary steps to contain staff costs. Recommendations in respect of man power in IR are given in the succeeding paragraphs.

Manpower. While as per authorization the shortage of manpower is to the tune of 2 lakhs, there is no requirement of filling up many of these vacancies on account of introduction of new technologies and computerisation in the IR. Comparative study should be carried out by the IR to understand its staffing pattern vis-a-vis foreign railways. Prima facie it appears that IR is overstaffed as compared to its counterpart foreign railways.

Yardsticks / Norms for Staff. Yardsticks / norms for staff need to be reviewed. Despite introduction of new technologies and changeover from manual maintenance to mechanised maintenance systems, there has been no significant reduction in manpower yardsticks. For practically all activities, IR has a yardstick/norm for manpower required. There is an urgent need for reviewing these norms. It can be done by entrusting the task to some reputed consultants like Deloitte, Ernst and Young etc. It is also pertinent to mention that in earlier times a substantial portion of work such as track renewal, sleeper renewal, upgrading the signalling system etc. was done departmentally. Today most of these activities, other than very basic maintenance, are done through contractors. Manpower yardstick should be reviewed periodically. Requirement of staff be worked out on zero basis.

Computerisation. With growing levels of computerisation, there is a strong case for reducing clerical staff, stenographers, helpers etc. In all disciplines a fresh look at manpower needs to be taken with a view to identifying areas having surplus staff.

Core Function. There is need for the IR to focus on its core function of transportation. Activities such as manufacturing, maintenance of residential estates, hospitals, schools could be corporatized or out sourced. Outsourcing of some maintenance could also be considered as is the practice in several countries, for example in Japan the Railway Companies outsource maintenance functions to certain group companies.

Skill Development. Railways followed a practice of attaching helpers to technicians with on the Job learning, the norm. It is considered that for proper skill development, specialised training is necessary. This can be imparted in IR’s own workshop/ training centres to teach helpers the skills of their choice like electrician, plumber, mechanic, mason, welder signal maintainer etc. After successful completion a competency certificate should be issued. Upon occurrence of vacancies such trained staff could be selected based on competence certificate without conducting a further trade test.

Recruitment Boards. Presently, project surplus casual labour forms bulk of the base for induction at the entry level. There is a requirement of instituting recruitment for entry level staff by Special Recruitment Boards on the lines of Army Recruitment Boards.

Accelerating India's Agricultural Growth & Doubling Farmer's Income


More than 50% of India' population is dependent on Agriculture which is contributing 16% to India's GDP. The sector is affected by instability in incomes due to vagaries of climate (droughts, floods, pest attacks etc), market issues and unremunerative prices.
Surya foundation Think Tank on Agriculture discussed issues pertaining to “Accelerating India's Agricultural Growth and Doubling Farmer's Income”. Salient issues discussed are highlighted in the subsequent paragraphs.


Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Farmers 
Govt. has done well to announce in the Union budget 2018-19 an MSP that is 50% over cost of production. Production cost include input and wages of labour (A2) and imputed wages for the time spent by the farmer and his family (FL) in crop production.

Sugarcane Pricing
  • Centre announces a Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for sugarcane every season to support farmer's interests. Ultimate sugar prices are determined by market dynamics and in excess production years there is a crash in prices. Our sugar export is constrained due to Indian sugar prices being higher than International prices.

  • It is recommended that the Commission For Agriculture Costs and Pricing (CACP) revenue sharing model proposed for sugarcane pricing be adopted i.e. provide a realistic fair and remunerative price (FRP) for farmers and in years where market price of sugar rises, the gains will be proportionately shared by farmers and sugar mills. In case there is a fall in prices, the farmers will be compensated from a Price Stabilization Fund. There is also a case for more production of ethanol from excess sugar with oil companies to increase their off take  from sugar mills which is presently only around 3.5% against the 10% permitted in ethanol blending in fuel oil.

Market Reforms in Agriculture
The State Ministers Committee on Agricultural Marketing Reforms (July 2013) recommended the “Removal of State Market Barriers / Restrictive Trade Practices” to evolve an All India Market for agricultural products, giving freedom to the farmer to sell in any market of his choice. The recent Dalwai Committee Report in addition to the above has suggested placing Agricultural Marketing in the Concurrent list to facilitate a “One India Agricultural Market”, to be owned by Centre and States, and to convert existing Agriculture Price Marketing Committee (APMC) markets into independent markets, working along with private markets.

Risk Management in Agriculture

Production Risks. 
These include vagaries due to droughts, floods, delayed monsoon as also pest attacks resulting in 5% to 45% losses primarily in cotton, paddy and vegetables. It is recommended that Research efforts to develop pest resistant and low water requirement crop varieties by ICAR and other institutions be strengthened.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)
Introduced in 2016, it is a farmer friendly plan for covering crop production losses. This is heavily subsidized by Central and State Govts.

Accelerating India's Agricultural Growth

The First Green Revolution 
India achieved spectacular growth in Agricultural production which grew at 3.3% against population/demand increase of 2.2% with India reaching self sufficiency in cereals. Three decades later the progress has however slowed down due to scale of irrigation support going down, rained areas undergoing severe droughts and, farm holding size coming down.

Ushering in Second Green Revolution 
A second Green Revolution based on climate sustainability, R&D, Bio - technology innovations, less water requiring high yield disease resistant crops for India is the need of the hour.  Initiatives of Ministry of Agriculture, in this regard include:-
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture. This aims at seeking to transform Indian agriculture being climate resilient and being more productive by location of specific integrated farming systems and efficient water management practices.
  • Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture. This covers fruits, vegetables, root crops, flowers and medicinal plants.
  • Rasthriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. This encompasses a Centre / State funding in the ratio 60/40.

Oil seed shortages in country is an  issue of  concern 
India being 60% import dependant with annual out flow of Rs 75,000 crores in Foreign Exchange. The demand supply gap may widen further in future years with our planned growth of Animal Husbandry and other live stock.

Transgenic/Genetic Modified Crops 
India has the fourth largest acreage in the world for GM (Genetically Modified) crops due to adoption of BT cotton extensively by farmers. On the edible side, GM mustard developed by Indian R&D is yet to be cleared as also other GM varieties developed by indigenous R&D (ICAR).
Focus of the Second Green revolution should be on water surplus Eastern States by increasing production of paddy, Sugarcane and corn (with potential for production of bio fuel.
Setting up of Primary Kisan Centres in each village with electrical/digital connectivity with some small warehousing facility/ cold storage.

Imbalance In Use of Fertilizers 
There is distortion in current usage of fertilizers in the NPK Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potassium ratio with heavy usage of nitrogenous fertilizers against low usage of phosphate and potassium. Neem coating of urea to avoid diversion to other use, appears to be yielding results with urea consumption. It is important to intensify the Soil Health Card Mission. There is an urgent need to increase indigenous fertilizer production.

Indo-Israeli Collaboration in Agriculture
Following PM's last visit to Israel, bilateral cooperation has been extended for joint development of new crop varieties, transfer of water    conserving technologies and use of recycled water for agriculture.

Addressing Water Shortages for Agriculture
Govt's initiative to link rivers for sharing surplus waters is laudable. A beginning has been made on the Rs 10,000 crore Ken-Betwa project with MP and UP cooperation which is expected to irrigate 6.35 lakh acres. The 8,500 crore Narmada-Parvati river link will benefit 2 lakh acres in Malwa region. There is a need for relook on large water storage dams. Despite India having more than 5,000 storage dams, its annual per capita storage capacity is only around 225 cubic meters compared to China which has 1,200 cubic meters.
Hydro power has been attempted through Run of the River (ROR) projects without storage facility. There is an urgent need to revisit the issue of need for large storage dams.
Atal Bhujal Yojana. The Govt has done well to launch the Rs 6,000 crore (World Bank Aided) initiatives of Ministry of Water resources to address critically depleting ground water resources in the identified 8,350 panchayats / 78 districts.

Doubling Farmers Income-2022
It is quite evident that the Agricultural Sector in India is witnessing an unprecedented downturn in so far as the income levels of farmers are concerned. In this regard, PM's call for “Doubling Farmer's income by 2022" is timely.

Doubling Farmer's income will involve several measures viz, developing yield/pest resistance varieties, increasing crop intensity (with minor irrigation support), crop diversification and shift to high value crops, providing access to information and markets, remunerative pricing, effective and timely crop insurance disbursals and introducing a stabilisation fund that can support farmer's. 
Strengthening Agricultural Infrastructure in the form of cold chains, warehouses and agro processing units is vital if we consider the enormous losses in food grains post harvest. A fillip to agro based industries in rural areas is called for.

Role of Horticulture
India has done well in the horticulture field with an annual production exceeding cereals with a growth rate of around 5%, resulting in higher income and sustaining even smaller farmers. Organic farming holds promises, particularly in the North-East region.

Ushering in Second White revolution
India ranks first among the milk producing nations since 1998. Milk production in India reached 163 MT in 2016-17 accounting for 19% of world production. Approximately 70 million rural households in the country are engaged in milk production and the average herd size is less than four. India's milk production has been characterized more by “production by masses” than big “mass production”.

Pivotal Role of R&D in Agricultural Growth
In 1900, Global population was around 1.6, billion; today it is 7.3 billion. Fertilizers, Mechanization and Plant Breeding are three major R&D developments that have contributed towards avoidance of mass famines and resultant political unrest.
Success in R&D is only possible if the most competent scientists across ICAR, DBT, CSIR and universities are involved on a long term basis by creating Centers of Excellence. Every Project needs to be anchored and funded by one of the agencies — ICAR, DBT or CSIR.
Farmers should be able to connect with Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and institutions to get their day-to-day problems solved. Greater role may be given to well performing NGO's to connect farmers to KVK's.
Aerobic Cultivation of Rice to Save Ground Water Resources in Irrigated Ecologies. Fifty four percent of the country is facing high to extreme high water stress. Ground water depletion in North-West and Coastal areas where rice is grown under irrigation has reached alarming levels. There is urgent need to increase R&D investment in Agriculture.

It may be pointed out that rapid growth in agriculture will ultimately depend on individual States initiative with the Centre acting as a facilitator. It is recommended that progress of agriculture should be an important point in the agenda of Inter State Council Meetings.



For several years, World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risk Reports have identified water as one of the three most important challenges worldwide. In 2015, water was moved to the top as the biggest societal and economic risk to the world for the next 10 years. While the world as a whole has abundant freshwater resources, spatial disparity and seasonal scarcity of freshwater, compounded by climate change, is emerging as an acute threat to many parts of the world. Perhaps, the biggest potential point where water conflicts might erupt is in the Himalayan region, between the two most populous and thirsty nations in the world, China and India, which share several transboundary rivers, including the most contentious, the Brahmaputra River.

Across the world, as per United Nations Report, 2.1 billion people lack access to drinking water services. Water scarcity affects four out of every ten people. 90% of all natural disasters are water related. 3.4 lakh children under 5 years of age die every year from water borne diseases. Agriculture accounts for 70% of global water; an 80% of waste water flows back into the ecosystem untreated. In 2010, the UN General Assembly recognized the right of every human beings access to safe, acceptable and affordable water up to 50 to 100 litres per day for personal and domestic uses.

Background Issues
India has more than 18% of the world population but has only 4% of the world's renewable water sources and 2.4% of land area. There is also the problem of uneven distribution of water sources both over time and space. The normal rainfall in India averages around 118 cms, essentially contributed by the SW monsoon. East Khasi hills in Meghalaya receive the highest rainfall of 1100 cms while Western Rajasthan receives the lowest rainfall (10 cms). As per estimates of the Ministry of Water resources, the country's water requirement is expected to be around 784 BCM and 843 BCM (Billion Cubic Meters) for low and high demand respectively for year 2025 and 973 BCM and 1180 BCM for low and high demands respectively by 2050. With projected growth in population to 1.58 billion, an acute “water stressed” situation in the country is expected in 2050, while “water scarcity” will start appearing from 2025.

Water resources in India are ridden with competitive issues and conflicts at all levels-between states (water is a state subject as per Indian Constitution) as well as farmers vs industry, rural vs urban, within irrigation and between constituents of command areas. A national survey carried out in 2004 observed 29% of ground water blocks being depleted to alarming low levels. Water contamination with arsenic and fluorides is also posing major problem. Inefficient water supply delivery and weak institutions/ policies are major issues. Supply augmentation seems to be the preferred response to water scarcity rather than an improvement to water delivery management and conservation.
The Govt's National Water Mission, under the national action plan on climate change, addresses some of the issues above. Its main objective is conservation of water, minimizing wastage, ensuring equitable distribution across and within states through integrated water resources development. Recycling / reuse of water are also planned. Govt's initiative to link rivers for sharing surplus waters is quite laudable. There is also an imperative need for relook on large water storage dams. Despite India having more than 5,000 storage dams, its annual per capita storage capacity is only around 225 cubic meters compared to China which has 1,200 cubic meters.

Focus on Creation of Storage including large Dams
In the context of India's water storage potential being round 700 BCM (billion cubic metres) and only a capacity of 300 BCM having so far been created, there is a strong case for drawing a plan for creation of an additional capacity of 150 BCM in the next 15 years by formulating a benign Relief & Rehabilitation (R&R) & addressing connected eco- concerns effectively. This is vital for India's survival, keeping in view global warming & resultant adverse impact due to climate change.

Prioritisation of Projects
Large untapped potential on Brahmaputra in Arunachal Pradesh (Upper Siang, Subarnasari Upper and Kamla Projects, Kalti Hutong etc.) will have to be exploited quickly, addressing agitation against dams in Arunachal Pradesh/Assam by announcing a special economic package for Arunachal Pradesh, Assam & North-East region & encouraging setting up of appropriate industries utilizing the large hydro power proposed to be generated there. Projects in Bhutan (Sankosh) & Nepal (Pancheshwar, Sapta Kosi, Karnali) will need to be progressed on priority by strengthening cooperation with these states. The potential in Western flowing rivers to Arabian Sea from Kanyakumari to Tapi which is around 30 BCM as estimated by Irrigation Commission Report in 1972, will have to be taken advantage of. Action taken by the Union Govt to support funding states in improving efficiency of existing water infrastructure is an important initiative.

Interlinking River Basins
This is a laudable initiative and needs to be progressed quickly, especially in the context of additional storage capacity proposed to be created which will also help in flood control, and augmentation of irrigation capacity as well as drinking water supplies to large urban population centres. Ken-Betwa, Daman Ganga-Pinjal, Par-Tapi interlinking projects are being given priority but commencement would depend on signing of interstate water sharing agreements between concerned states (a major issue which will affect most interlink projects). Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga-Damodar-Subarnarekha-Mahanadi-Godavari- Krishna-Cauvery. North-South link is an ambitious project and needs to be planned & progressed on priority as a symbol of national unity.

Inter State Water Dispute Act 1956-Amendment - 2017
The amendment seeks provision of a permanent dispute resolution body of Supreme Court judges with experts, benches being formed specific to disputes. Time limits (around four & half years) for resolution has also been prescribed. While this will certainly reduce time for constitution of tribunals, on case by case earlier, whether effective resolution through a legal/judicial process can be reached, on a political-economic issue is a matter of debate. With centre planning to support interstate basins with transboundary water surpluses, with Centre supporting River link projects with financial sharing, there is a case for centre being allotted 5 to 10% of interstate water resources, which it could allot to member states on need base from time to time. The Centre should also effectively use powers entrusted to it in entry 56 of Union list of the Seventh Schedule which provides for “Regulation and Development of Interstate Rivers and River Valleys.

Issues Pertaining to Transboundary Rivers
With regard to Brahmaputra & the China factor, India will have to keep a constant vigil on China making any efforts to divert the river north near Indo-Tibetan boundary and build international pressure on China on the issue. Plans to divert the Waters of the Nujrang, the “angry river”, in Yunnan Province by China on its downward journey South to Myanmar- Thailand, where the river is known as the Salween River, had been put in abeyance following enormous protests from environmentalists coupled with international pressure. This was on the grounds that this was one of China's most spectacular region with its rich bio- diversity popularly called “China's Grand Canyon”, an International Heritage site, which would be affected by the diversion. With regard to Indus water treaty, India should hasten to fully utilize its entitlements both on Eastern & Western tributaries. Work on Sutlej-Yamuna canal should be commenced, if necessary examining an alternative alignment. Strengthening & nurturing relationships with Nepal (as well as Bhutan) is essential to progress joint hydro projects which will benefit both countries. To facilitate Indo-Bangladesh accord on river sharing, India could consider offering from Brahmaputra surpluses.

Ground Water Depletion
It is well known that in India 85% of Rural Drinking Water Supplies, 55% of Urban Water Supplies and 60% of Irrigation Water required are met from Ground Water Resources. Ground water is reaching alarmingly low levels in many parts of India due to excessive extraction for both agricultural & other uses. The initiative taken by Central Ground Water Board in having demonstrative projects for artificial aquifer recharging need to be sustained & state govts follow up the initiative with extra funding for spreading the programme. All states (like Maharashtra, Gujarat) should quickly set up State level Ground water boards for monitoring the issues. Atal Bhujal Yojana (Rs. 6,000 crores world bank aided) addresses critically depleting water resources of 5 states / 78 districts, representing 25% of distressed areas in the country.

Model Ground Water (Sustainable Management) Bill 2016
The bill recognizes the unitary nature of water resource, the need for decentralize control to an extent as well as the imperative requirement to protect the source/aquifier from over exploitation. 
It is recommended that “ground water” is brought under concurrent list with Centre controlling exploitation beyond some critical depth, State Govts controlling depths beyond permissible limits for land owners.

Draft Ganga Bill (Under Formulation)
The Bill is stated to aim at environmental protection of the Ganga to preserve its water quality and to provide the necessary back up regulatory authority for this. It is understood the Bill seeks to prohibit not only untreated water but also treated water to be discharged into the Ganga. This is a very laudable approach as with this it will put pressure on the polluter to reduce water consumption but acquire necessary land to make profitable use of water which may bring about several innovations. It is recommended that the Act in due course transform itself as a "National river & water body preservation & protection Act".

Desalination Plants
There is need to set up large desalination plants on Israeli model in coastal states like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu etc to meet the growing urban drinking water requirements.
NITI-Aayog's Composite Index for Water Use-Focus on Conservation Management
Niti Aayog in a document in June 2018 has brought out comparative figures of water usage indices for Agriculture, Industry & Urban use (domestic water/harvesting etc) in different states. This will be an excellent tool for benchmarking to facilitate conservation.

Lessons from Recent Kerala Floods
Besides expediting river link projects which will provide additional storage capacity (specially for diversion in case of floods) the issue of dam safety & its proper functioning of sluice gates etc will have to be monitored. Rehabilitation programme for all dams, based on their age should be quickly drawn up & implemented. It is also necessary that State govts notify flood prone areas (from disaster management angle) and ensure progressive removal of encroachments.

Pricing of Water
Water needs to be priced both from conservation angle as also to facilitate interstate transfer of surplus waters (on Power trading model). State Govts should progressively withdraw from concepts like free electricity for agriculture, free water. If subsidy is intended to be given (eg for marginal farmers) this should be in the form of later direct transfer, funds being supported by state budgets.