The National Water Mission is part of the eight climate change missions of India. Water scarcity from being merely a topic for decision is becoming a harsh reality and if judiciously utilized and valued, might even become as precious as oil. It is already second to oil in importance and unless conserved might even become a paid resource. Nobody would want to pay for water although some are already doing so albeit for portable water. (Know more about Earth’s water distribution and Indian scenario)
Salient features of the National Water Mission are-
- Comprehensive water data base in public domain and assessment of the impact of climate change on water resource.
- Promotion of citizen and state action for water conservation, augmentation and preservation.
- Focused attention to over-exploited areas
- Increasing water use efficiency by 20%
- Promotion of basin level integrated water resources management.
- Need for new regulatory structures with appropriate entitlements and pricing and incentives to adopt water-neutral or water positive technologies.
- Mandatory water assessments and audits; ensuring proper industrial waste disposal.
- Support research on climate change and its impact on water resources
- Measures for mitigation of negative impacts of projected changes in the water resources
- Adaptation and Management planning for judicious utilization of water resources
Exploring new sources:
- Using Reverse Osmosis for sea water and brackish water desalinization.
- Recycle of water and reuse wherever possible.
- Technologies for water purification.
- Enhancing storage capacities in multipurpose hydro projects, and integration of drainage with irrigation infrastructures.
- Mandating water harvesting.
Institutional Mechanism and Planning:
- Review of National Water Policy
- To ensure convergence among various water resources programmes.
- Leakage control.
- Revision of water tariff.
- To set up river basin organizations.
- Promoting micro-irrigating techniques.
- Encourage PPP model for waste water recycling.
One of the problems in case of India is the geographical distribution of precipitation and the fact that majority of it occurs in the monsoon season only. Therefore, effective storage and recharging of water becomes imperative. The utmost priority as highlighted in the National Water Policy is the supply of clean drinking water. Water being a state subject in India, effective co-ordination with states will also determine the success of water related programs. The mission seeks to establish an institutional setup to address the same allocating and identifying programs run by different ministries.
As of now, India lacks an aggressive water policy which must change and we need to realize and accept quickly that India’s water resources are finite, fast diminishing and need to be effectively managed and judiciously utilized. The success of many other ambitious Indian dreams rests on the shoulders of water security such as food security and indirectly economic security.
Reference and further reading-
NATIONAL WATER MISSION under National Action Plan on Climate Change, Government of India Ministry of Water Resources.
Know more about Indian river interlinking project
Image Credit: Dan Ogle, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service