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6th meeting of the National Water Resources Council Discusses Draft National Water Policy

New Delhi: December 28,2012

The 6th meeting of the National Water Resources Council organized by the Ministry of Water Resources today began with a call from Prime minster Dr. Manmohan Singh for a judicious management of countries limited water resources and a paradigm shift in our approach to this vital issue.

Dr. Manmohan Singh was chairing the one day long meeting in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. He said rapid economic growth and urbanization today are widening the demand supply gap and leading to worsening our water-stress index. Our water bodies are getting increasingly polluted by untreated industrial effluents and sewage. Groundwater levels are falling in many parts due to excessive withdrawals, leading to contamination with fluoride, arsenic and other chemicals. The practice of open defecation, which regrettably is all too widespread, contributes further to contaminating potable water sources
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Dr. Singh said planning for water use and distribution has to be done on the foundation of a national vision. Regions with sufficient water resources are already experiencing the strains that result from having water-deficient regions around them. We therefore need to rise above political, ideological and regional differences and also move away from a narrow project-centric approach to a broader holistic approach to issues of water management.

Speaking on the highlights of the extensive consultations preceding the formulation of the draft National Water Policy 2012 he said this is an effort to focus attention on the looming crisis in the water sector and to lay a roadmap for the future, based on the fundamental principles of equity, sustainability and good governance. He said our deliberations today need to be guided not only by these sound principles, but also an appreciation of the fact that we are approaching a critical juncture for the future of water management in our country.

Referring to the problems in achieving better management he said the current institutional and legal structures dealing with water in our country are inadequate, fragmented and need active reform. It is in this context that a suggestion has been made for a national legal framework of general principles on water, which, in turn, would pave the way for essential legislation on water governance in every State. He hoped that the framework would be an umbrella statement of general principles governing the exercise of legislative, executive or devolved powers by the Centre, the states and the local governing bodies.

Dr. Manmohan Singh reiterated that central government does not wish to encroach, in any manner, upon the constitutionally guaranteed rights of States or to centralize water management.

Union Water Resources Minster Harish Rawat said the draft policy 2012, while emphasising the basin management concept to promote integrated water resources management also looks at the adaptation policies, needed to cope with the impact of climatic change. He said the policy stresses the need for differential pricing of water, based on economic principles, while securing the basic needs of the people.

Today’s meeting was attended by several chief Ministers and state water Resources ministers along with senior officers from state as well as Central Ministries.

DEL /ST
 

 
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