Why in news?
- The Union Water Resources Ministry has finalised a committee chaired by Mihir Shah, who is a former Planning Commission member and a water expert to draft a new National Water Policy (NWP). The committee has 10 principal members. The committee is expected to produce a report within six months.
Why is the new policy needed now?
- The NWP currently in force was drafted in 2012 and is the third such policy since 1987.
- In order to meet the present challenges in the water sector, revision of National Water Policy 2012 has been envisage..
- Revitalisation of rivers needs to be brought into focus and policy parameters need to be set up accordingly.
- Technological innovations like censors, Geographic Information systems (GIS) and Satellite imagery need to be introduced to modulate the water and track the flow.
Salient features of National Water Policy 2012:
- Emphasis on the need for a national water framework law and comprehensive legislation for optimum development of inter-State rivers and river valleys.
- Water is treated as an economic good so as to promote its conservation and efficient use.
- A portion of river flows should be kept aside to meet ecological needs ensuring that the proportional low and high flow releases correspond in time closely to the natural flow regime.
- Adaptation strategies in view of climate change for designing and management of water resources structures.
- A system to evolve benchmarks for water uses for different purposes, e., water footprints, and water auditing be developed to ensure efficient use of water.
- Setting up of the Water Regulatory Authority has been recommended.
- Water Users Associations should be given statutory powers to collect and retain a portion of water charges, manage the volumetric quantum of water allotted to them.
- Water resources projects and services should be managed with community participation.
- Adequate grants to the States to update technology, design practices, planning and management practices, preparation of annual water balances and accounts for the site and basin, preparation of hydrologic balances for water systems, and benchmarking and performance evaluation.