National Water Policy
General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
General Studies 3:
- Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
- Water Pollution, Wastewater management
In News: The Centre plans to come out with an updated version of the National Water Policy with key changes in water governance structure and regulatory framework, besides setting up a National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency. There is a need to update the National Water Policy of 2012 in the light of new challenges, especially the adverse effects of climate change.
- Hydrological boundaries, rather than administrative or political boundaries, should be part of the water governance structure in the country, and the Centre is currently talking to the States to build a consensus
- Building consensus among the States within the Constitutional framework is a pre-condition for making the changes as water conservation, along with water harvesting and judicious and multiple use of water, are key to tackling the water challenges that India faces.
- Calling for the rejuvenation and revitalisation of traditional water bodies and resources through the age-old conservation methods. There is a need for disseminating modern water technologies in an extensive fashion.
- In terms of water trade, that water-surplus States such as Chhattisgarh can gain by sharing the resource with the deficient ones.
- There is a need for policy changes for giving incentive to crops using less water. Participatory groundwater management should be promoted in a big way to maintain quality and sustainability.
Causes of Water Scarcity
- Overuse of Water: In developed countries per capita water consumption is far more than developing and poor countries. An average U.S. family wastes 13,000 gallons of water every year.
- Geographical distribution: Usage depends on availability of water; Canadian households use an average of 91 US gallons each day, while American households use just over 100 gallons. Contrast this to Israel, where water supplies are limited, which uses an average of only 36 gallons per household per day.
- Pollution of Water: 80 percent of wastewater from human activities is discharged into waterways without any pollution removal. Bangalore water crisis was due to pollution in city’s lakes and rapid urbanisation.
- Conflict: Water stress in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq are examples of water crisis due to conflicts. War disrupts the infrastructure as well as administration.
- Distance: Areas that are considered to be desert, or areas that are secluded deal with water scarcity because they just aren’t close to anywhere that has water.
- Women in sub-Saharan Africa collectively spend about 40 billion hours a year collecting water. This significantly impacts their employment opportunities.
- Drought: A drought is an area which is not getting enough rainfall to be able to sustain the life that is residing there. Some areas are in perpetual drought, whereas other areas may be dealing with a drought on occasion. Some examples of it are from India itself, Marathwada region in Maharashtra is usually under drought conditions throughout the year. Another classic example is the recent water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa, major reason here was drought.
- Climate Change: Due to climate change and rising temperature there is change in global weather pattern and monsoon. Leading to drying up of rivers and reservoirs. Floods too affect the usability of water.
Ensuring India’s water security and providing access to safe drinking water to all Indians is a priority. A major step in this direction has been the constitution of Jal Shakti Ministry. This new Ministry will look at the management of our water resources and water supply in an integrated and holistic manner and will work with states to ensure ‘Har Ghar Jal’, to all rural households by 2024 under ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’
- The new ministry has been formed by merging the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
- All water related works will be merged under one ministry.
- The new ministry will encompass issues ranging from providing clean drinking water, international and inter-states water disputes, to the Namami Gange project aimed at cleaning Gang and its tributaries, and sub tributaries.
The Way Ahead
Efficiency in Agriculture: The agricultural sector consumes over 85 per cent of the available water today in India, and there is enormous scope to save water here through improved efficiency.
- Shifting cropping pattern from water-intensive to less water consuming crops can save significant amount of water.
- Micro-irrigation method (drip and sprinkler) of rice cultivation promises to enhance water use efficiency with increased crop productivity.
- Rainwater harvesting is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of augmenting water stock.
- Investing and promoting water-recycling technologies and storm water capturing schemes should also be given utmost emphasis.
- The proposed water conservation fee on groundwater extraction is definitely a right step in the direction of regulating water use.
Strict pollution control enforcement:
- User-centric approach to water management, especially in agriculture
- Decentralisation of irrigation commands, offering higher financial flows to well-performing States through a National Irrigation Management Fund
- Steady urbanisation calls for a new management paradigm – augmenting sources of clean drinking water supply and treatment technologies that will encourage reuse.
Rethink water management
- Creative and imaginative governance in the form of building larger storage dams which can store excess water in lesser time is the need of the hour.
- People should be sensitised about the judicious use of water and educated about water-retention dams and other conventional structures such as eari, bawli, talab, anict, dam etc. to store water.
- The old practice of rainwater harvesting should also be popularised. Tamil Nadu has made mandatory installation of water harvesting structures in every house and this must be replicated in other States as well.
- Investing and promoting water-recycling, storm-water capturing technologies and micro-irrigation techniques in crop cultivation can also solve the problem of water scarcity.
- The cost effective method of reviving the traditional small water bodies under the age old practice of Kudimaramath should be given top priority.
- First state to have water policy: Meghalaya; to address water issues, conservation, and protection of water sources in the state.
- Water is a State subject
- Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030. By definition, this means leaving no one behind.
‘Composite Water Management Index’:
This index is an attempt to budge States and UTs towards efficient and optimal utilization of water and recycling thereof with a sense of urgency.The Index and this associated report are expected to:
- Establish a clear baseline and benchmark for state-level performance on key water indicators
- Uncover and explain how states have progressed on water issues over time, including identifying high-performers and under-performers, thereby inculcating a culture of constructive competition among states
- Identify areas for deeper engagement and investment on the part of the states.
The Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) is a major step towards creating a culture of databased decision-making for water in India, which can encourage ‘competitive and cooperative federalism’ in the country’s water governance and management.
Connecting the Dots:
- Integrated Water Management is a tool for poverty reduction & sustainable economic development. Discuss.
- Many parts of the country are facing severe water crisis and drought conditions. There are many traditional water harvesting and conservation practices in various parts of India which can be employed locally to fight the ongoing crisis. Can you identify few such practices? Also mention the states where they are more prevalent.
- Addressing the deepening drought, agrarian distress and water-management are critical not just for our governments to survive but for us to survive our governments. Comment.