Short Notes on National Water Policy of India

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Following are the main features of the na­tional water policy framed by the Government of India regulating the utilization, management and conservation of water resources in the country:

‘Water is a prime natural resource, a basic human need and a precious national asset. Hence the planning and development of water resources need to be governed by national perspectives.

It has been estimated that out of the total precipitation of around 400 million hectare meters in the country, the availability of surface water is about 178 million hectare meters. Out of this about 50 per cent can be put to beneficial use because of topo­graphical and other constrains. Besides there is a ground water potential of about 42 million hectare meters.

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The distribution of water resource is highly uneven in both space and time. Precipitation is seasonal mainly concentrated to three or four months in the year. It varies from 10 cm in the western Rajasthan to over 1,000 cm at Cherrapunji in Meghalaya. Hence, there is water surplus in one part of the country as well as water deficit in another part. Since water as a resource is one and indivisible, the national water policy proposes to evolve a national water grid for the proper management and utilisation of the country’s water resources whereby surplus water from one region of the country could be transferred to the drought prone areas reeling under water scarcity.

The policy, therefore, proposes to initiate investigation for a national plan for inter- basin transfer of water from the water surplus areas to the water deficit areas.

The National Water Policy aims at planning the surface water resources of the country on the basis of a hydrological unit such as a drainage basin as a whole or for a sub-basin. This will ensure optimum utilisation of the water resources of the country.

Owing to the increasing demands of water in irrigation, industrial and domestic uses it aims at taking suitable measures for proper management and conservation of water resources of the country, minimsing losses at the storage and the diversion point and in the distribution system. Suitable meas­ures should be taken for controlling water pollution, purifying polluted water and recycling the same for utilization.

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It advocates efficient water management and introduction of Warabandi on rotaional distribution system on the existing and new projects and formu­lation and monitoring irrigation programmes for different regions in a water year.

It proposes adequate maintenance of canals and distribution systems by making adequate finan­cial allocations for maintenance of canal systems.

It suggests detailed surveys and investiga­tions for preparation of new projects on priority basis for tribal areas, drought prone areas and areas involving scheduled castes and economically weaker sections of the society.

It puts emphasis on supplying pure drinking water to rural areas besides meeting the needs of the urban areas. It proposes proper survey of ground water resources, its scientific management and ef­fective measures for their conservation and recharg­ing.

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The policy also focusses attention on devis­ing suitable strategies for such problems like waterlogging, salinization, degradation of fertile agricultural lands, deteriorating water quality, over exploitation of ground water resources and uproot­ing families due to development projects.

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