The World Commission on Dams, formed earlier this year with the support of the World Bank, will meet in India to try to form a set of guidelines that will help prevent poorly conceived projects being built.

The issue often pits environmentalists against authorities in developing countries desperate for power and irrigation facilities. The Commission will attempt to elevate the debate to one about how the world is to manage its water resources in the next century.

The Commission has 12 members. Five of them are outspoken critics of dams, while others are advocates for dam construction. The World Bank, which has funded many large hydropower projects in the past, hopes the forum will be able to resolve the issues and arrive at a consensus over guidelines that differentiate good dams from bad ones.