The objective of the National Water Policy, 2012 is to assess the existing situation and to propose a framework for a plan of action with a unified national perspective. In order to achieve the objective of the Policy, a number of recommendations have been made therein for conservation, development and improved management of water resources of the country. The salient features of the National Water Policy, 2012 are annexed. Implementation of these recommendations involves coordinated and continuing efforts on the part of the concerned Ministries / Departments of Central Government and the State Governments. Copies of the National Water Policy, 2012 have been forwarded to all State Governments / Union Territories and the concerned Ministries / Departments of the Central Government for appropriate action.
The salient features of national water policy (2012) are as follows:
1. Emphasis on the need for a national water framework law, comprehensive legislation for optimum development of inter-State rivers and river valleys.
2. Water, after meeting the pre-emptive needs for safe drinking water and sanitation, achieving food security, supporting poor people dependent on agriculture for their livelihood and high priority allocation for minimum eco-system needs, be treated as economic good so as to promote its conservation and efficient use.
3. Ecological needs of the river should be determined recognizing that river flows are characterized by low or no flows, small floods (freshets), large floods and flow variability and should accommodate development needs. 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.
4. Adaptation strategies in view of climate change for designing and management of water resources structures and review of acceptability criteria has been emphasized.
5. A system to evolve benchmarks for water uses for different purposes, i.e., water footprints, and water auditing be developed to ensure efficient use of water. Project financing has been suggested as a tool to incentivize efficient & economic use of water.
6. Setting up of Water Regulatory Authority has been recommended. Incentivization of recycle and re-use has been recommended.
7. 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 and maintain the distribution system in their jurisdiction.
8. Removal of large disparity in stipulations for water supply in urban areas and in rural areas has been recommended.
9. 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 partnership model to meet agreed terms of service delivery, including penalties for failure.
10. 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 etc.
This was stated by Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.