National Water Commission: Important Topics for UPSC Exams​

National Water Commission: Important Topics for UPSC Exams​

What is it?

  • It is recommended by the Mihir Shah committee on restructuring the Central Water Commission and Central Ground Water Board.
  • They said that a new National Water Commission (NWC) be established as the nation’s top facilitation organisation dealing with water policy, data and governance.

Recommendations about a new NWC

  • It should be an autonomous body and headed by a chief national water commissioner.
  • It should have full time commissioners representing hydrology, hydrogeology, hydrometeorology, river ecology, ecological economics, agronomy (with focus on soil and water) and participatory resource planning and management.
  • It will be having countrywide base and mandate, and greater human-power.
  • It will incorporate Central Water Commission (CWC) & the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).
  • Its objective is to reduce inter-state water disputes, bring greater efficiency, better planning and increased emphasis on conservation of water.
  • It will also ensure that all water resources are managed in a holistic manner and not separately as surface water, groundwater or river water.

Why such reform is needed?

  • As per the report, CWC and CGWB were created in a different era and needed restructuring to work on a new mandate in a manner that overcomes the division between groundwater and surface water.
  • iIndia faces unprecedented challenges of water management in the 21st century. As the water crisis deepens by the day, the old 20th century solutions appear to be distinctly running out of steam. These solutions were devised in an era when India had yet to create its irrigation potential.
  • While big dams played a big role in creating a huge irrigation potential, today the challenge is to effectively utilise this potential, as the water that lies stored in our dams is not reaching the farmers for whom it is meant.
    Groundwater, which truly powered the Green Revolution, faces a crisis of sustainability.
  • Water levels and water quality have both fallen creating a new kind of crisis, where the solution to a problem has become part of the problem itself.
  • The new challenge is to manage our aquifers sustainably.
  • Climate change poses fresh challenges as more extreme rates of precipitation and evapo-transpiration intensify impacts of floods and droughts.
  • The current pattern of water usage will lead to half of the demand for water unmet by 2030.
  • As much as 60% of districts faced groundwater over-exploitation and serious quality issues.
  • Groundwater contamination by fluoride, arsenic, mercury, and even uranium is another major challenge.
  • Since independence 113 million hectares of irrigation potential is created however utilization is only 89 million hectare and the gap is growing every year.
  • The report said, “By focusing on low-hanging fruit we could add 35 million hectares to the irrigated area over next 10 years at a very low cost however for this we need to shift focus from construction to management and maintenance.”

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