Current General Studies Magazine (August 2014)
General Studies - III (Environment and Bio-diversity Based
National Water Policy of India
Water is a prime natural resource, a basic human need and a
precious national asset Planning and development of water resources need to be
governed by national perspectives. Water is one of the most crucial elements in
developmental planning. As the country prepares itself to enter the 21st
century, effect to develop, conserve, utilise and manage this important resource
have to be guided by national perspectives. The need for a national water policy
is thus abundantly clear : water is a scarce and precious national resource to
be planned, developed and conserved as such, and on an integrated and
environmentally sound basis, keeping in view the needs of the State concerned.
National Water Policy is formulated by the Ministry of Water
Resources of the Government of India to govern the planning and development of
water resources and their optimum utilization. The first National Water Policy
was adopted in September, 1987. It was reviewed and updated in 2002 and later in
India accounts for 15% of the world population and about 4% of the world’s
water resources. One of the solutions to solve the country’s water woes is to
link the rivers.
India has been successful in creating live water storage capacity of about
253 billion cubic meter(BCM) so far. In a first, the ecological needs of river
have also been taken into consideration.
The major provisions under the policy are:
1. Envisages to establish a standardized national information system with a
network of data banks and data bases
2. Resource planning and recycling for providing maximum availability
3. To give importance to the impact of projects on human settlements and
4. Guidelines for the safety of storage dams and other water-related structures
5. Regulate exploitation of groundwater
6. Setting water allocation priorities in the following order: Drinking water,
Irrigation, Hydropower, Navigation, Industrial and other uses.
7. The water rates for surface water and ground water should be rationalized
with due regard to the interests of small and marginal farmers.
The policy also deals with participation of farmers and voluntary agencies,
water quality, water zoning, conservation of water, flood and drought
management, erosion etc.
National Water Policy 2012
The main emphasis of National Water Policy 2012 is to treat
water as economic good which the ministry claims to promote its conservation and
efficient use.This provision intended for the privatization of water-delivery
services is being criticized from various quarters. The policy also does away
with the priorities for water allocation mentioned in 1987 and 2002 versions of
the policy. The policy was adopted with a disapproval from many states.
SALIENT FEATURES OF REVISED DRAFT NATIONAL WATER POLICY (2012)
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Ecological needs of the river should be determined
recognizing 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.
4. Adaptation strategies in view of climate change for designing and
management of water resources structures and review of acceptability criteria
has been emphasized.
5. 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.
6. Setting up of Water Regulatory Authority has been recommended.
Incentivization of recycle and re-use has been recommended.
7. 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.
8. Removal of large disparity in stipulations for water supply in urban areas
and in rural areas has been recommended.
9. 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.
10. 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.
Merits and demerits of the National water policy, 2012 :
- The policy deserves accolade for its ecological, climate change and
- Growing water conflicts warrant a permanent ” Water dispute tribunal”,
which is taken care off .
- Underpricing of electricity is no doubt a reason for wastage of both
water and electricity.
- The policy sees water as a community resource, but also treats water as
an economic good which is contradictory.
- Instead of giving incentives for recycle and reuse of water is in the
favor of industries , strict enforcement of punitive laws to punish those
industries that neglect water and pollute it should be the ideal option
- Water issues are very sensitive and unless proper understanding among
people within states and inter states is created, conflicts will continue to
Enumerate the National Water Policy of India. Taking
river Ganges as an example, discuss the strategies which may be adopted for
river water pollution control and management. What are the legal provisions
of management and handling of hazardous wastes in India? (200 words)
Discuss Merits and demerits of the National water policy, 2012. (200