Saturday, June 1, 2013

Water is making newz these dayzzz ..administratively ,politically ,socially .....letz see wat is in the minds of the Govt. of India these dayz !!!!

Viewz  of  Ramaswamy R. Iyer is a former Secretary, Water Resources, Government of India

National water policy 

Why a national
 water framework 

(1) Under the Indian Constitution water is primarily a State subject, but it is an increasingly important national concern in the context of:

(a) the judicial recognition of the right to water as a part of the fundamental right to life;

(b) the general perception of an imminent water crisis, and the dire and urgent need to conserve this scarce and precious resource;

(c) the severe and intractable inter-use and inter-State conflicts;

(d) the pollution of rivers and other water sources, turning rivers into sewers or poison and contaminating aquifers;

(e) the long-term environmental, ecological and social implications of projects to augment the availability of water for human use;

(f) the equity implications of the distribution, use and control of water;

(g) the international dimensions of some of India’s rivers; and

(h) the emerging concerns about the impact of climate change on water and the need for appropriate responses at local, national, regional, and global levels.

It is clear that the above considerations cast several responsibilities on the Central government, apart from those of the State governments. Given these and other concerns, the need for an overarching national water law is self-evident.

(2) Several States are enacting laws on water and related issues. These can be quite divergent in their perceptions of and approaches to water. Some divergences from State to State may be inevitable and acceptable, but extreme and fundamental divergences will create a very muddled situation. A broad national consensus on certain basics seems very desirable.

(3) Different State governments tend to adopt different legal positions on their rights over the waters of a river basin that straddles more than one State. Such legal divergences tend to render the resolution of inter-State river-water conflicts extremely difficult. A national statement of the general legal position and principles that should govern such cases seems desirable.

(4) Water is one of the most basic requirements for life. If national laws are considered necessary on subjects such as the environment, forests, wildlife, biological diversity, etc., a national law on water is even more necessary. Water is as basic as (if not more basic than) those subjects.

(5) Finally, the idea of a national water law is not something unusual or unprecedented. Many countries in the world have national water laws or codes, and some of them (for instance, the South African National Water Act of 1998)are widely regarded as very enlightened. The considerations behind those national codes or laws are relevant to India as well, although the form of a water law for India will clearly have to be guided by the nature of the Indian Constitution and the specific needs and circumstances of this country.

Highlights of the draft 
national water policy is
 given below
  • Planning, development and management of water resources need to be governed by common integrated perspective considering local, regional, State and national context, and keeping in view the human, environmental, social and economic needs.
  • Water needs to be managed as a common pool community resource through a National level legal framework, under public trust doctrine to achieve food security, livelihood, and equitable and sustainable development for all. Existing  water Acts  may have to be modified accordingly.
  • Water is essential for sustenance of eco-system, and therefore, minimum ecological needs should be given due consideration.
  • River basins are to be considered as the basic unit of all hydrological planning. Inter-basin transfers of water to be considered on the basis of merits of each case after evaluating the environmental, economic and social impacts of such transfers.
  • Climate change adaptation strategies like increasing the water storage various means, better water use efficiency, proper demand management, incorporate coping strategies for possible climate changes during formulation of mega water projects and enhancing the capabilities of community to adopt climate resilient technological options is advocated.
  • Enhancing the water available for use through status assessment of water resources every five years,  direct use of rainfall and avoidance of inadvertent evapo-transpiration , mapping of aquifers to know the quantum and quality of ground water, arresting exploitation of ground water and considering the river basins as basic hydrological units of all planning’s is advocated in the policy.
  • Integrated watershed development activities with MGNREGA to extent possible to reduce sedimentation yield and increase water productivity.
  • Water footprints, and water auditing should be developed to promote and incentivize efficient use of water.
  • Recycle and reuse of water, including return flows, should be the general norm and incentives for the same to encourage practice.
  • Water saving in irrigation use is of paramount importance and heavy underpricing of electricity which results in both wastage of water and electricity to be regulated
  • The draft also says that “For the pre-emptive and high priority uses of water for sustaining life and ecosystem for ensuring food security and supporting livelihood for the poor, the principle of differential pricing may have to be retained. Over and above these uses, water should increasingly be subjected to allocation and pricing on economic principles”
  • A Water Regulatory Authority (WRA) should be established in each State to  fix and regulate the water tariff system and charges( on volumetric basis). Water Users Associations (WUAs) 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.
  • Conservation of river corridors, water bodies and infrastructure by preventing encroachment and diversification of water bodies and restoring them to the extent feasible avoiding urban settlements in upstreams and controlling pollution of water bodies through stringent punitive actions.
  • In planning and implementation efficiency benchmarks to be prescribed, done in ecological, social and climate change perspective and they should be time bound to avoid economic losses. Local governing bodies like Panchayats, Municipalities, Corporations, etc., and Water Users Associations, wherever applicable, should be involved in planning of the projects.
  • Proactive measure  like flood forecasting, coping mechanisms in place and relevant control measures to prevent flood and drought are to be planned
  • Removal of disparity in water supply urban and rural areas, tapping surface water for urban domestic water supply and integrating water supply and sewage treatment schemes will be given priority.
  • A permanent Water Disputes Tribunal at the Centre should be established to resolve the disputes expeditiously in an equitable manner. Apart from using the “good offices? of the Union or the State Governments, as the case may be, the paths of Arbitration and Mediation may also to be tried in dispute resolution.
  • 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 partnershipmodel to meet agreed terms of service delivery, including penalties for failure.
  • The draft facilitates international agreements with neighboring countries on  bilateral basis for  exchange of hydrological data of international rivers on near real time basis.
  • All hydrological data, other than those classified on national security consideration, should be in public domain. A National Water Informatics Center should be established to collect, collate and process hydrologic data regularly from all over the country, conduct the preliminary processing, and maintain in open and transparent manner on a GIS platform.

  • Ministry of Water Resources had constituted a Drafting Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. Y.K. Alagh to draft Water Framework Law as an umbrella statement of general principles governing the exercise of legislative and /or executive (or devolved) powers by the Centre, the States and the local governing bodies.

Recent Development !
  1. The Centre on Wednesday (May-end )  unveiled the proposed National Water Framework Law, and National Guidelines for Inter-State Water Sharing and River Basin Authorities, but the agenda was so heavy and controversial that the meeting of National Forum of (select) State Water Resources Minsters decided to “study” the documents and “discuss” them at a meeting attended by all the States.
  2. Secondly, the report by the T.S. Daobia Committee, which was asked to suggest a legal framework to constitute an Inter-State River Basin Organisation, has recommended that the defunct River Boards Act, 1956 be replaced with a River Basin Management Act under which River Basin Authorities for different inter-State river basins may be constituted. The earlier plan to have a National River Basin Authority was abandoned as it was apprehended that States will oppose it as an infringement upon their rights.
  3. The Justice Daobia Committee has therefore proposed a two-tier structure for River Basin Authority for each basin, namely, an upper layer of Governing Council with membership of Chief Ministers of co-basin States, and an Executive Board under it. An authority will prepare a River Basin Master Plan and ensure compliance. In case of inter-State dispute the Council shall try for reconciliation, failing which, refer the dispute to a tribunal for adjudication under the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956.
  4. Thirdly, the meeting looked at the Draft National Policy Guidelines that are being evolved for sharing and distributing inter-State waters on the principle of “equity.” This will not cover sharing of waters of trans-boundary river basins.


Some terms related to Water !!!

 “Water footprint” means the total volume of water 
used direct or in the form of goods and services 
embodying water, by an individual or community or 
country as a whole, or by an industry or business in 
its production or other commercial activity;
 “Water-harvesting” means capturing and 
conserving rainwater or retarding run-off through 
various structures either for the direct use of the 
stored waters or for re-charging groundwater aquifers

 “Watershed” means the ridge or line of high land 
separating two areas such that rainwater falling on 
one side of the line drains on that side and cannot 
pass to the other side; by extension, the area 
bounded by the ridge; generally used to denote a 
small local area bounded by low ridges, but 
sometimes also a large area bounded by high hills, 
including a river-basin. 
 “River basin” means the area drained by a river 
and its tributaries, that is, the total area within which whatever precipitation or runoff occurs will, except for evaporation and seepage into the ground, eventually find its way to the river or one of its tributaries.


Government mulls using water footprint as a tool to measure 

water consumption by farming and industrial processes, 

experts warn of its limitations

  • The most common use of the water footprint is to calculate the quantity of water used to grow a unit (kilogram) of food or produce a specified weight of a product. Calculations by WFN show it takes 822 litres of water to grow a kilo of apples. For a kilo of beef, it is 15,415 litres, and 5,521 litres for a kilo of mutton. Rice needs 2,497 litres while potatoes need 287 litres a kilo. However, these are global averages.
  • According to WFN’s Water Footprint Manual, there are two ways to calculate a footprint: the Chain Summation Approach and the Stepwise Accumulative Approach. The former is used for particular cases while the latter is a more generic approach.
  • In the Chain Summation Approach, water footprints associated with the process can be fully attributed to the product. 
  • The water footprint is the sum of water consumed by each individual process that constitute the production without double accounting. 
Now what is the criticism w.r.t. WATER FOOTPRINT ?

  • WF is a uni-dimensional tool as it only considers water as an input without accounting for other factors. 
  • Critics point out the footprint is not politically neutral as it influences a country’s agriculture, industry and livelihoods. In fact, the use of just one tool can impact food security if it is the only way to measure if a country should or should not grow a particular crop. For example, a country facing shortages of water and food will grow or import the kind of food its population requires regardless of its water footprint.
  •  water footprints do not describe the role and relative importance of water in production; it is a quantitative measure. They do not cover water scarcity or sustainability of the source of water nor the productivity or livelihoods.
  • farm A may grow wheat using 1,100 cubic metre (cu. m) of water per tonne and farm B using 900 cu. m. However, A may be more mechanized while B may have got more timely rainfall. Thus, there are farm-to-farm fluctuations that have little to do with water use. 
  • Another problem,  relates to the components of the footprint – blue, green and grey water. There is no scientific basis for this separation and the opportunity cost for soil moisture (green water) can be quite large. The grey water does not give any information about the kind of pollution.
Despite its limitations, the water footprint can possibly be one tool to measure water consumption by farming or industrial processes, but not the only one. India has other compulsions – livelihoods and health – that may outweigh a uni-dimensional and context-specific approach. While it is desirable to have a yardstick to assess water use, it needs to be wielded in the local development context and not in isolation that may lead to erroneous conclusions.

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