Land and water management should be given ‘Number One’ priority for achieving evergreen revolution. No less important is to achieve the utmost efficiency in investment as well as in the use of water.
~M. S. Swaminathan
With the onset of summer, it is common to see water becoming as precious as gold in many parts of our country. And the reason is obvious. India has 18 percent of the world’s population, but only 4 percent of its fresh-water resources, which makes it one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. So, it is of utmost importance for us to have robust water management policies and actions. Let’s take a brief look at some of the water-related policies and schemes.
- At present, National Water Policy – 2012 is in effect. Going forward, to address the present challenges in the water sector, a revision of the National Water Policy has been envisaged.
- Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) implemented by GOI in partnership with states, aims at providing adequate and potable water on a regular and long-term basis to every rural household.
- Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT) aims to achieve universal coverage of water supply in 500 Mission cities and make cities self-reliant and water secure.
- AMRUT 2.0 aims to promote the circular economy of water through the development of a City Water Balance Plan for each city focusing on recycling/reuse of treated sewage, rejuvenation of water bodies and water conservation.
The above-mentioned policies might provide us with a sense of relief and security. However, as an aware citizen, you must know that the looming water crisis cannot be dealt with the policies that lack relevance today. India is prone to droughts as well as floods. Climate change is increasing unpredictability in weather patterns and leading to more extreme weather events. We, as a nation, look into an uncertain future. A future impacted by climate change. Such an uncertain period demands policies that are robust and flexible at the same time. For instance, water budgets. Water being a subject under the purview of state governments, such budgets hold a significant relevance today. Storage and distribution of water are fraught with social and institutional challenges. Problems such as inequitable distribution of water can be dealt with in every state by proposing the respective state water budgets. Accounting for water being stored and exchanged at the land surface can help states to manage their water resource efficiently. IoT devices have huge applications in this area.
They can help in monitoring water remotely and on a real-time basis. Water sustainability startups like FluxGen, have been already working in collaboration with AMRUT 2.0 and are undertaking their next transformational project in Goa.
Central groundwater authority (CGWA) can play a vital role in recharging the groundwater table. Entrusted with the responsibilities of providing scientific inputs for management, exploration, monitoring, assessment, augmentation and regulation of groundwater resources of the country, CGWA lays down some rules that industries must abide by:
- Abstracted groundwater being used as bulk water supplies through private tankers will now mandatorily seek a No Objection Certificate.
- Abstraction structures shall be fitted with tamper-proof digital water flow meters with telemetry. Flow meters shall be calibrated once a year by an authorized agency.
- Water quality being supplied by the bulk water supplier shall adhere to BIS norms for drinking and domestic purpose.
- Per day quantum of groundwater withdrawal shall be limited according to the proposed Permissible groundwater withdrawal Limit.
According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Water Quality Monitoring (WQM) and Surveillance are of utmost importance when it comes to managing freshwater resources that are finite and essential for use in agriculture, industry, propagation of wildlife & fisheries and for human existence. It classifies the usage of water according to the demand for its quality. The CPCB has identified 5 such “designated best uses”. All those water bodies, which are used for drinking without any treatment, but with disinfection (chlorination), are termed as “A” Class Water, those which are used for outdoor bathing are termed as “B” Class Water, those which are used for drinking after conventional treatment are termed as “C” Class Water, those which are used for propagation of wildlife and fisheries are termed as “D” Class Water and those which are used for irrigation, cooling and controlled waste disposal are termed as “E” Class Water.
Polices have to be framed keeping in mind water efficiency and not just water conservation. While water conservation talks about restricting its use, water efficiency focuses on reducing waste and also emphasizes that small behavioral changes in consumers can highly influence water consumption. Water as a resource is the most precious. It’s not just the government’s responsibility to make it accessible to everyone. Every person has a moral obligation to learn its efficient usage. This kind of awareness is only possible if the worth of this resource is ingrained in everyone’s mindset. National education policy (NEP) 2020 can be the savior here. Since NEP 2020 emphasizes topics relevant to current times, there could be no better time to redesign the water management courses. Water education in India needs to move towards an integrated approach. Similarly, interdisciplinary and collaborative research and teaching on water shall be encouraged. While managing natural resources is one of the biggest challenges for humanity, water seems to be the most complex of all resources due to its downward-flowing nature. It’s high time the world economies realize the worth of protecting our planet’s most valuable resource.
~ Pragya Singh
FluxGen -Marketing Intern