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Management of water resources in India is going to be crucially important to sustain the needs of one billion people. Water management is a composite area with linkages to various sectors of Indian economy including the agricultural, industrial, domestic and house hold, power, environment, fisheries and transportation sectors. There are issues related to conservation of depleting ground water resources, soil conservation, flood control and availability of potable water. A shared and community resource, water has often led to disputes between different states and also with the neighboring countries.

Over 480 million people in India don't have access to safe drinking water. In some Indian villages, women face the daily challenge of collecting water for their families. They often walk a great distance and spend up to four hours each day carrying water to their homes. Even then, the need isn't always met. Occasionally the women can only gather muddy water, and well owners often chase them away.

Traditionally, India depended on monsoons to meet its fresh water requirements but over the years ground water is being increasingly used for this purpose. This has reduced the country's dependence on monsoons but at the same time has resulted in depletion of ground water. In several areas of the country including Delhi, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu ground water levels are dangerously low.

There is an urgent need to address the issue of management of water resources in a sustainable manner and the country still awaits a clear policy in this direction.

Recognizing the need to address these issues in an integrated manner, the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India is responsible for laying down policy guidelines and programs for the development and regulation of country's water resources. The Ministry derives assistance from nearly fifteen organizations under its control

1. Central Water Commission, New Delhi
2. Central Ground Water Board, Faridabad
3. Central Water And Power Research Station, Pune
4. Central Soil And Materials Research Station, New Delhi
5. National Water Development Agency, New Delhi
6. National Institute Of Hydrology, Roorkee
7. Brahmaputra Board, Guwahati
8. Water And Power Consultancy Services (India) Ltd.,New Delhi
9. Rashtriya Pariyojana Nirman Nigam Ltd., New Delhi
10. Ganga Flood Control Commission, Patna
11. Narmada Control Authority, Indore
12. Sardar Sarovar Construction Advisory Committee, Vadodara
13. Farakka Barrage Project, Farakka
14. Betwa River Board
15. Bansagar Control Board

The various policies for the efficient use of country's water resources of the Ministry of Water Resources are:

  • Irrigation Management Policy
  • National Policy Guidelines for water allocation of inter-State rivers amongst States
  • National Commission for Integrated Water Resources Development Plan
  • Water Information Bill
  • Policy Note on setting up of River Basin Organisation
  • National Policy for Resettlement and Rehabilitation of persons affected by reservoir projects
  • Modification in water allocation priorities specified by National Water Policy
  • Overall policy guidelines for water management and pricing of water for industrial purpose
  • An approach to organizational and procedural changes in irrigation sector

The Government of India has also announced an ambitious project to interlink the major rivers. The policy is still being discussed & debated with strong views regarding the merits & demerits of the plan being expressed.

An Appeal by the then Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Water Conservation

"Water sustains life. It is now our duty to sustain all sources of water".
"Let us make water conservation a National Mission".
"Let us collectively address the problem of water shortage, which is growing into crisis proportions".

Conserve every drop of water

For solving the problem effectively, we need effective partnership between :

  • All citizens
  • People's organizations
  • Various water users
  • Government at all levels
  • Every household, housing society, colony, Panchayat and municipal body to:
    - Save water, harvest rainwater, optimize use of water through recycling.
  • Every farmer, farmer's cooperative, Panchayats and District Administrations in water scarce areas to:
    - take up conservation measures - construction of bunds, check dams; desilting of ponds and wells, and repair of canals.
    - Adopt drip, sprinkler and other water-saving irrigation techniques.
    - Avail benefits of Union Government Schemes - Swajaldhara, Hariyali and similar schemes of State Governments.
  • All industrial units, hotels, commercial establishments, Government offices to:
    - conduct water to make significant and targeted saving of water.
  • Take measures to clean up our polluted rivers, lakes and ponds.
  • Scientists to undertake development of low-cost water technologies as a major challenge.

Activities underway by the Government of India:

Mass awareness programme launched through :

  • Media Campaign on Water Conservation.
  • Public exhibits, Puppet Shows, Traditional Media, Street Theatres, Jal Yatras on the need for water conservation.
  • Special episode on "Water" through Doordarshan titled "Bhumi" on a weekly basis.
  • Quiz and Science Shows, Water Theme marches.
  • Water and Environment Awareness Programme through :
    - The National Green Corps (through 50,000 schools)
    - Regional Resource Agencies of Ministry of Environment & Forests.
    - State Councils of Science and Technology.
    - Central Water Commission.
    - Central Ground Water Board.

Seminar and workshops :

  • Seminars on "Water Conservation - Role of Civil Society"
  • Water Management and Artificial Recharge Training Programmes by Central Ground Water Board for Engineers, Architects, Geologists, Government Officials, Panchayat Samitis, and Water Users Associations.
  • National Seminar on "Water Conservation in Semi-Arid Zones", at Udaipur.
  • National Workshop on Drinking Water and Sanitation in collaboration with Global Rain Water Harvesting Collective.
  • Thematic seminar in six regions on National River Conservation Programme.
  • Artificial recharge of ground water and roof-top rainwater harvesting training programmes at heritage sites.

Water Harvesting/Conservation Schemes :

  • Implementation of Swajaldhara programme.
  • Watershed development programmes by Panchayati Raj Institutions under Hariyali Programme.
  • Construction of water harvesting structures and toilets in schools around the country.
  • Revival of traditional water systems across the nation.
  • River-bed and bathing ghats cleaning and slum cleaning in 18 States.
  • Water Quality Audit in at least four large States.

Source- Ministry of Water Resources- Govt of India

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