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
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