WATER POLICY - INDIA
need for a national water policy
Safety of structures
Ground water development
of farmers and voluntay agencies
Flood Control and Management
Land erosion by Sea
Science and Technology
The Need for a National Water Policy Tops
Water is a prime natural resource,
a basic human need and a precious national asset Planning
and development of water resources need to be governed by
1.2 It has been estimated
that out of the total precipitation of around 400 million
hectare meters in the country, the surface water availability
is about 178 million hectare metres. Out of this about 50
% can be put to beneficial use because of topographical
and other constraints. In addition there is a ground water
potential of about 42 million hectare metres. The availability
of water is highly uneven in both space and time. Precipitation
is confined to only about three of four months in the year
and varies from 10 cm in the western parts of Rajasthan
to over 1000 cm. At Cherrapunji in Meghalaya. Further, water
does not respect state boundaries. Not merely rivers but
even underground aquifers often cut across state boundaries.
Water as a resources in one and indivisible : rainfall,
river waters, surface ponds and lakes and ground water are
al part of one system, water is also a part of larger ecological
1.3 Floods and drought
affected vast areas of the country, transcending state boundaries.
A third of the country is drought prone. Floods affect an
average area of around 9 million hectares per year. According
to the National Commission on floods, the area susceptible
to floods is around 40 million hectares. The approach to
the management of drought and floods has to be coordinated
and guided at the national level.
1.4 Even the planning and
implementation of individual irrigation or multi purpose
projects, though done at the state level, involve a number
of aspects and issues such as environmental protection,
rehabilitation of project- affected people and livestock,
public health consequences of water impoundment, dam safety,
etc. On these matter common approaches and weaknesses have
affected a large number of projects all over the country..
There have been substantial time and cost overruns on projects.
In some irrigation commands, problems of water logging
and soil salinity have emerged, leading to the degradation
of good agricultural land. There are also complex problems
of equity and social justice in regard to water distribution.
The development and exploitation of the countrys groundwater
resources also give rise to questions of judicious and scientific
resource management and conservation. All these questions
need to be tackled on the basis of common policies and strategies.
1.5 The growth process
and the expansion of economic activities inevitably lead
to increasing demands for water for diverse purpose: domestic,
industrial, agricultural, hydro-power, navigation, recreation,
etc. So far, the principal consumptive use of water has
been for irrigation. While the irrigation potential is estimated
to have increased from 19.5 million hectares at the time
of Independence to about 68 million hectares at the end
of Sixth plan, further development of a substantial order
is necessary if the food and fiber needs of a growing population
are to be met. The countrys population which is over750
million at present is expected to reach a level of around
1000 million by the turn of the century.
1.6 The production of foodgrains
has increased from around 50 million tonnes in the fifties
to about 150 million tonnes at present, but this will have
to be raised to around 240 million tonnes by the year 200
A.D. The drinking water needs of people and livestock have
also to be met. In keeping with the objective of the International
Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade Programme (1981-1991),
adequate drinking water facilities have to be provided to
the entire population in both urban and rural areas and
sanitation facilities to 80 % of the urban population and
25% of the rural population by the end of the decade. Domestic
and industrial water needs have largely been concentrated
in or near the principal cities, but the demand from rural
society is expected to increased sharply as the development
programme improve economic conditions in the rural areas.
The demand for water for hydro and thermal power generation
and for other industrializes is also likely to increase
substantially As a result water which is already a scarce
resource will become even scarcer in future. This underscores
the need for the utmost efficiency in water utilization
and a public awareness of the importance of its conservation.
1.7 Another important aspect
is water quality. Improvements in existing strategies and
the innovation of new techniques resting on a strong science
and technology base will be needed to eliminate the pollution
of surface and ground water resources, to improve water
quality and to step up the recycling and re-use of water.
Science and technology and training have also important
roles to play in water resources development in general.
1.8 Water is one of the
most crucial elements in developmental planning. As the
country prepares itself to enter the 21st century,
effect to develop, conserve, utilise and manage this important
resource have to be guided by national perspectives. The
need for a national water policy is thus abundantly clear
: water is a scarce and precious national resource to be
planned, developed and conserved as such, and on an integrated
and environmentally sound basis, keeping in view the needs
of the State concerned.
2. Information System Top
The prime requisite for
resources planning is a well-developed information system.
A standardised national information system should be established
with a network of data banks and data bases, integrating
and strengthening the existing Central and State level agencies
and improving the quality of data and the processing capabilities.
There should be free exchange of data among the various
agencies and duplication in data collection should be avoided.
Apart from the data regarding water availability and actual
water use, the system should also include comprehensive
and reasonably reliable projections and reasonably reliable
projections of future demands for water for diverse purpose.
Maximising availability Top
The water resource available to the
country should be brought within the category of utilizable
resources to the maximum possible extent. The resources
should be conserved and the availability augmented by measures
for maximizing retention and minimising losses.
3.2 Resource planning in the case of water has to be done
for a hydrological basin as whole, or for a sub-basin. All
individual developmental projects and proposals should be
formulated by the States and considered within the framework
of such an overall plan for a basin or sub-basin, so that
the best possible combination of potions can be made.
organizations should be established for the planned development
and management of a river basin as a whole. Special multi-disciplinary
units should be set up in each state to prepare comprehensive
plans taking into account not only the needs or irrigation
but also harmonising various other water uses, so that the
available water resources are determined and put to optimum
use having regard to subsisting agreements or awards of
tribunals under the relevant laws.
should be made available to water short areas by transfers
from other areas including transfers from one river basin
to another, based on a national perspective, after taking
into account the requirements of the areas/basins.
and re-use of water should be an integral part of water
Water resource development projects should be
far as possible be planned and develop as multipurpose projects.
Provision for drinking water should be a primary consideration.
The projects should provide for irrigation, flood mitigation,
hydro-electric power generation, navigation, pisciculture
and recreation wherever possible.
4.2 The study of the impact
of a project during construction and later on human lives,
settlement, occupations, economic and other aspects should
be an essential component of project planning.
4.3 In the Planning implementation
and operation of projects, the preservation of the quality
of environment and the ecological balance should be a primary
consideration. The adverse impact, if any, on the environment
should be minimised and should be off-set by adequate compensatory
4.4 There should be an
integrated and multi-disciplinary approach to the planning,
formulation, clearance and implementation of projects, including
Catchment treatment and management, environmental and ecological
aspects, the rehabilitation of effected people and command
4.5 Special efforts should
be made to investigate and formulate projects either in,
or for the benefit f, area inhabited by tribal or other
specially disadvantaged groups such as Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes. In other areas also, project planning
should pay special attention to the needs of Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections of society.
4.6 The planning of projects
in hilly area should take into account the need to provide
assured drinking water, possibilities of hydro power development
and the proper approach to irrigation in such area, in the
context of physical features and constraints such as steep
slopes, rapid run-off and the incidence of soil erosion.
The economic evaluation of projects in such areas should
also take these factors into account.
4.7 Time and cost overruns
and deficient realization of benefits characterising most
irrigation projects should be obviated by an optimal allocation
or resources, having regard to the early completion of on-going
projects as well as the need to reduce regional imbalances.
5. Maintenance and modernisation Top
6. Safety of structures Top
Structures and systems created
through massive investments should be properly maintained
in good health. Appropriate annual provisions should be
made for this purpose in the budgets.
There should be a regular
monitoring of structures and systems and necessary rehabilitation
and modernisation programmes should be undertaken.
There should be proper
organisational arrangements at the national and state levels
for ensuring the safety of storage dams and other water-related
structures. The central guidelines on the subject should
be kept under constant review and periodically updated and
reformulated. There should be a system of continuous surveillance
and regular visits by experts.
Ground water development Top
There should be a periodical
reassessment on a scientific basis of the ground water potential,
taking into consideration the quality of the water available
and economic viability.
7.2 Exploitation of ground
water resources should be so regulated as not to exceed
the recharging possibilities, as also to ensure social equity.
Ground water recharge projects should be developed and implemented
for augmenting the available supplies.
7.3 Integrated and coordinated
development of surface water and ground water and their
conjunctive use, should be envisaged right from the project
planning stage and should form an essential part of the
7.4 Over exploitation of
ground water should be avoided near the coast prevent ingress
of sea water into sweet water aquifers.
Water allocation Priorities Top
In the planning and operation
of systems, water allocation priorities should be broadly
as follows :-
and other uses.
However, these priorities
might be modified if necessary in particular regions with
reference to area specific considerations
9. Drinking water
Adequate drinking water
facilities should be provided to the entire population both
in urban and in rural areas by 1991. Irrigation and multipurpose
projects should invariably include a drinking water component.
Wherever there is no alternative source of drinking water.
Drinking water needs of human beings and animals should
be the first charge on any available water.
Irrigation planning either in an individual
project or in a basin as a whole should take into account
the irrigability of land cost-effective irrigation options
possible from all available sources of water and appropriate
irrigation techniques. The irrigation intensity should be
such as to extend the benefits of irrigation to as large
a number of farm families as possible, keeping in view the
need to maximize production.
10.2 There should be a
close integration of water use and land use policies.
10.3 Water allocation in
an irrigation system should be done with due regard to equity
and social justice. Disparities in the availability of water
between head-reach and tail-end farms and between large
and small farms should be obviated by adoption of a rotational
water distribution system and supply of water on a volumetric
basis subject to certain ceilings.
10.4 Concerted efforts
should be made to ensure that the irrigation potential created
is fully utilised and the gap between the potential created
and its utilization is removed. For this purpose, the command
area development approach should be adopted in all irrigation
Water rates Top
Water rates should be such
as to convey the scarcity value or the resource to the users
and to foster the motivation for economy in water-use. They
should be adequate to cover the annual maintenance and operation
charges and a part of the fixed costs. Efforts should be
made to reach this ideal over a period, while ensuring the
assured and timely supplies or irrigation water. The water
rates for surface water and ground water should be rationalised
with due regard to the interests of small and marginal farmers.
12. Participation of
farmers and voluntary agencies
Efforts should be made
to involve farmers progressively in various aspects of management
of irrigation systems, particularly in water distribution
and collection of water rates. Assistance of voluntary agencies
should be enlisted in educating the farmers in efficient
water use and water management
13. Water Quality Top
Both surface water and
ground water should be regularly monitored for quality.
A phased programme should be undertaken for improvements
in water quality
Water zoning Top
Economic development and
activities including agricultural, industrial and urban
development, should be planned with due regard to the constraints
imposed by the configuration of water availability. There
should be water zoning of the country and the economic activities
should be guided and regulated in accordance with such zoning.
Conservation of water Top
The efficiency of utilisation
in all the diverse uses of water should be improved and
an awareness of water as a scarce resource should be fostered.
Conservation consciousness should be promoted through education.
Regulation, incentives and disincentives.
Flood Control and Management Top
There should be a master
plan for flood control and management for each flood prone
basin. Sound watershed management through extensive soil
conservation, catchment area treatment, preservation of
check-dams should be promoted to reduce the intensity of
floods Adequate flood-cushion should be provided in water
storage projects wherever feasible to facilitate better
flood management An extensive network for flood forecasting
should be established for timely warning to the settlements
in the flood plains, along with the regulation of settlements
and economic activity in the flood plain zones, to minimise
the loss of life and property on account of floods while
physical flood protection works like embankments and dykes
will continue to be necessary the emphasis should be on
non-structural measures for the minimization of losses,
such as flood forecasting and warning and flood plain zoning,
so as to reduce the recurring expenditure on flood relief.
Land erosion by sea or river Top
The erosion of land, whether
by the sea in coastal areas or by river waters inland, should
be minimised by suitable cost-effective measures The States
and Union territories should also undertake all requisite
steps to ensure that indiscriminate occupation and exploitation
of coastal strips of and are discouraged and that the location
of economic activities in area adjacent to the sea is regulated
Drought Management Top
Drought prone area should be made
less vulnerable to drought associated problems through soil
moisture conservation measures, water harvesting practices,
the minimisation of evaporation losses, the development
of the ground water potential and the transfer of surface
water from surplus areas where feasible and appropriate.
Pastures, forestry, or other modes of development, which
are relatively less water demanding should be encouraged.
In planning water resource development projects, the needs
of drought-prone area should be given priority.
18.2 Relief works undertaken
for providing employment to drought-stricken populations
should preferably be for drought proofing.
19. Science and
For effective and economical management
of our water resources, the frontiers of knowledge need
to be pushed forward in several directions by intensifying
research efforts in various area, including the following:-
of water resources;
and lake hydrology;
water hydrology and recharge;
of salinity ingress;
and seepage losses;
designs for water resource projects;
and cropping systems;
safety and longevity of water related structures;
and materials research;
water management practices and improvements in operational
of sea water resources;
A perspective plan for standardised training
should be an integral part of water resources development..
it should cover training in information systems, sectoral
planning, projects planning and formulation, project management
, operation of projects and their physical structures and
systems and the management of the water distribution systems.
The training should extend to all the categories of personnel
involved in these activities as also the farmers.
21. Conclusion Tops
In view of the vital importance of water
for human and animal life, for maintaining ecological balance
and for economic and development activities of all kinds,
and considering its increasing scarcity, the planning and
management of this resource and its optimal, economical
and equitable use has become a matter of the utmost urgency
The success of the national water policy will depend entirely
on the development and maintenance of a national consensus
and commitments to its underlying principles and objectives.
Printable form of this policy