framework for creation of a system of laws and institutions he objective of the National Water Policy is to take cognizance of the existing situation, to propose a and for a plan of action with a unified national perspective.
Features of National Water Policy
- Water Framework Law
. The framework law must recognize water not only as a scarce resource but also as a sustainer of life and ecology. Groundwater in particular needs to be managed as a community resource held by the state, under public trust doctrine.
. Comprehensive legislation for optimum development of inter state rivers and river valleys.
- Adaptation to Climate Change
. The anticipated increase in variability in availability of water because of climate change should be dealt with by increasing water storage in the various forms.
- Enhancing Water Availability for Use
. The availability of water resources and its use by various sectors in various basins and States in the country need to be assessed scientifically and reviewed at periodical intervals, say every 5 years.
. There is a need to map aquifers to know the quantum and quality of ground water resources.
. Inter-basin transfers of water should be considered on the basis of merits of each case after evaluating the environmental, economic and social impacts of such transfers.
- Water Pricing
. Equitable access to water for all and its fair pricing, for drinking and other uses such as sanitation, agricultural and industrial, should be arrived at through independent statutory Water Regulatory Authority (WRA), set up by each State.
. The principle of differential pricing may be retained for the pre-emptive uses of water for drinking and sanitation; and high priority allocation for ensuring food security and supporting livelihood for the poor.
. The over withdrawal of groundwater should be minimized by regulating the use of electricity for its extraction. Separate electric feeders for pumping groundwater for agricultural use should be considered.
- Database and Information System
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 an open and transparent manner on a GIS platform.
- Institutional Arrangements
. A permanent Water Disputes Tribunal at the Centre should be established to resolve the disputes expeditiously in an equitable manner.
- Water Supply and Sanitation
. There is a need to remove large disparity between stipulations for water supply in urban and in rural areas. Efforts should be made to provide improved water supply in rural areas with proper sewerage facilities.
. Urban domestic water systems need to collect and publish water accounts and water audit reports indicating leakages and pilferage, which should be reduced.
. In urban and industrial areas, rainwater harvesting and desalination, wherever techno-economically feasible, should be encouraged to increase availability of utilizable water.
- Water Infrastructure
. The water resources infrastructure should be maintained properly to continue to get the intended benefits. A suitable percentage of the costs of infrastructure development may be set aside along with collected water charges, for repair and maintenance.