Policy to integrate water resources

Our Bureau

Council (NWRC) on Monday adopted the ‘National Water Policy’, which seeks to integrate water resources development and its management for optimal and sustainable utilisation while keeping out of the various inter-State water disputes .

At a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr A.B. Vajpayee, here, the Council adopted the "revised and updated" policy. According to the Minister for Water Resources, Mr Arjun Charan Sethi, who briefed newspersons after the daylong deliberations, the adoption of the revised policy was "unanimous".

A resolution adopted at the meeting, which was attended by the Chief Ministers and Irrigation Ministers of States, said: "In view of the major consensus on the policy, the council re-solves to adopt the (Revised) National Water Policy with modifications, as agreed to by the council, and directs its circulation to all concerned. The policy would be titled ‘National Water Policy-2002’.

The Water Resources Minister felt that the adoption of the policy was a "landmark achievement for my Ministry". The policy, he said, integrated quantity and quality aspects as wel1 as environmental considerations for water through "ad-equate institutional arrangements", including the setting up of appropriate River Basin Organisations (RBOs).

Commenting on the unanimous adoption of’ the water policy, the Prime Minister noted that this was the beginning of a new era. The policy, he said, provided that to achieve the de-sired objectives, each State Source: Central Ground Water Authority would have to formulate its own water policy at the State level, which has to be backed with an operational action plan in a time-bound manner, in about two years.

"The States should start working on this and come out with a workable action plan," he said. Earlier, while inaugurating the conference, Mr Vajpayee pointed out that the subsidies on power and diesel had been largely responsible for the over-exploitation of ground water.

"We also need to clearly understand that subsidies for power and diesel have been largely responsible for over-exploitation of ground water, leading to sharp lowering of the water table in many regions. In turn, this has led to increased use of energy for irrigation, and further expenditure on energy subsidies," Mr Vajpayee said. To correct the situation and recharge the ground water reservoirs to normal levels, Mr Vajpayee advocated the involvement of the community with appropriate group incentives.