7.1 Policy Statement: Provisions and illustrations
Ministry of Water Resource on 7th June, 2012 released its ‘draft national water policy 2012’ .The draft proposes to identify and address some of the most acute water stress and scarcity issue India faces today. Responding and reflecting to the ground-reality, the lawmakers in preamble sagacioly lays stress on the principles of conservation, water management, and ecological requirements of the water body.
Draft reveals that the principles of ‘equity and social justice’ are important component of water management. They should guide the use and allocation of water resource. Acknowledging that water entails cross-disciplinary sectors, the draft envisions integrated and coordinated model of development. In other words, it suggests that a common and unified perspective to govern planning and regulation of water resources. A participatory approach involving water users, planners, and policy makers at all levels pave the way for informed and intelligible exchange of opinions and ideas. In addition, the draft for the first time acknowledges the need to manage water, as a resource, collectively. It states that this resource must be maintained and managed as a community resource by the nation-state under ‘Public Trust Doctrine’. This indicates that water being a public resource every citizen now onwards will have an equal right for personal, and recreational purposes.
A resource is properly and optimally utilised only when it is valued. That means there is a need to attach a monetary tag in order to create a value. Water after all is a public good and has a social and economic value in all its competing uses. Managing water as an economic good, hence, is an important way of achieving efficient and equitable use, and of encouraging conservation and enhancement of water resources. Moreover one needs to observe that water as an economic good is a key decision-making tool to distribute water among different sectors of the economy and different users within sectors. This is especially valid when water supplies can’t be increased. A most likely scene for India! Ultimately the draft policy prescribes that ‘river basin’ should be considered as the fundamental management unit. This prescription ensures high level of environmental protection, identification of costs and benefits and greater local level participation.
The framers of ‘draft policy’ believe that for a geographically rich and diverse country like India: the prescriptions in draft policy are suitable to address wide-spectrum of issues. From lack of water availability due to floods and other natural disasters. To insufficient access to safe water drinking water. And from over-exploitation of groundwater resources to inefficient and inadequate maintenance of existing irrigation infrastructure.
7.2 Salient Points
A policy that claims to address full-range of complex and contradictory issue and prescribe solutions, is a tall-order indeed. The writer, at...