10 Oct 2019
Source: Yojana Magazine
Salient features of National Water Policy
- Water Framework Law: Emphasis on the need for a national water framework law, comprehensive legislation for optimum development of inter-State rivers and river valleys, amendment of Irrigation Acts, Indian Easements Act, 1882, etc.
- Uses of Water: Water, after meeting the pre-emptive needs for safe drinking water and sanitation, achieving food security, supporting poor people dependent on agriculture for their livelihood and high priority allocation for minimum eco-system needs, be treated as economic good so as to promote its conservation and efficient use.
- The ecological needs of the river should be determined to recognize that river flows are characterized by low or no flows, small floods (freshets), large floods and flow variability and should accommodate development needs. A portion of river flows should be kept aside to meet ecological needs ensuring that the proportional low and high flow releases correspond in time closely to the natural flow regime.
- Adaptation to Climate Change: Adaptation strategies in view of climate change for designing and management of water resources structures and review of acceptability criteria has been emphasized.
- Management of Flood & Drought: While every effort should be made to avert water-related disasters like floods and droughts, through structural and non-structural measures, emphasis should be on preparedness for flood/drought with coping mechanisms as an option. Greater emphasis should be placed on rehabilitation of the natural drainage system.
- Demand Management & Water use efficiency: A system to evolve benchmarks for water uses for different purposes, i.e., water footprints, and water auditing be developed to ensure efficient use of water. Project financing has been suggested as a tool to incentivize efficient & economic use of water.
- Setting up of Water Regulatory Authority has been recommended. Incentivization of recycling and re-use has been recommended.
- Trans-boundary rivers: Even while accepting the principle of the basin as a unit of development, on the basis of practicability and easy implementability, efforts should be made to enter into international agreements with neighbouring countries on a bilateral basis for the exchange of hydrological data of international rivers on near real-time basis. Negotiations about sharing and management of water of international rivers should be done on a bilateral basis in consultative association with riparian States keeping paramount the national interest
- Water Users Associations should be given statutory powers to collect and retain a portion of water charges, manage the volumetric quantum of water allotted to them and maintain the distribution system in their jurisdiction.
- Removal of large disparity in stipulations for water supply in urban areas and in rural areas has been recommended.
- Water resources projects and services should be managed with community participation. Wherever the State Governments or local governing bodies so decide, the private sector can be encouraged to become a service provider in public-private partnership model to meet agreed terms of service delivery, including penalties for failure.
- Adequate grants to the States to update technology, design practices, planning and management practices, preparation of annual water balances and accounts for the site and basin, preparation of hydrologic balances for water systems, and benchmarking and performance evaluation.
- Implementation of National water policy: National Water Board should prepare a plan of action based on the National Water Policy, as approved by the National Water Resources Council, and to regularly monitor its implementation. The State Water Policies may need to be drafted/revised in accordance with this policy keeping in mind the basic concerns and principles as also a unified national perspective.