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National Water Mission Discussed in the Consultative Committee meeting of Water Resources Ministry

The Parliamentary Consultative Committee of Water Recources Ministry today held its meeting under the chairmanship of Union Water Resources Minster Shri Harish Rawat. The meeting was centred on the National Water Mission established under the National Action Plan on Climate Change. 

In his address the minister said water is essential for sustaining life & environment and is an important component for almost all developmental plans. He said various programmes for development of water resources for beneficial use of the society have been taken up since the time immemorial. There is a considerable progress in respect of water resources development in India after independence through various Plans. Total created irrigation potential at pre-Plan period was about 22.6 million hectares (Mha) which now has increased to 108.2 Mha with almost five fold increase. There has also been appreciable development in the areas of drinking water supply and other uses. However, growing population, urbanization and industrialization has led to considerable increase in demand of water for various purposes such as irrigation, domestic and industrial needs. 

The adverse impact of such unplanned development is evident from the alarming decline in water table in some areas. The utilization of the created facilities is far from optimal as the water sector in India suffers from relatively low water use efficiency. To address the two serious issues namely “food security” and “impact of climate change”, various initiatives have been taken by the Ministry of Water Resources to identify the most appropriate approach for water resources management. 

The National Action Plan on Climate Change envisages institutionalization of eight national missions including the National Water Mission. Realizing that there are large number of stakeholders in water sector as it involves many Ministries / Departments, key role in implementation is to be played by States, and there are numerous cross cutting issues, Ministry of water resources has carried out very detailed exercise for identifying the strategies to achieve the goals of the National Water Mission. The main objective of National Water Mission is conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources development and management. 

The Mission Document for National Water Mission envisages various issues related to water resources and five goals have been identified to address the problems. Various strategies for achieving the five goals have also been identified along with the actions which are required to be taken by the State Governments and also the Central Ministries / Departments concerned. 

Increasing water use efficiency by 20% over the existing is a very important goal for the National Water Mission. It has been observed that the irrigation infrastructures are not operating at desired efficiency. Efficiency of surface water projects has been assessed to be about 30-40%, which can be increased up to 60% by adopting efficient management practices, proper maintenance and modernization of existing infrastructures, command area development, participatory irrigation management and efficient irrigation and agricultural practices. Similarly, the efficiency of ground water facilities can be increased from the present level of about 65% to about 75%. 

An autonomous Authority, National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency (NBWUE) is proposed to be set up in the XII Plan under Article 3(3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to increase water use efficiency by 20% by March 2017. The Bureau will have the overall responsibility of improving water use efficiency across various sectors namely irrigation, drinking water supply, power generation and industry in the entire country. The Bureau will engage with various stakeholders in developing standards, preparing case studies, showcasing national and international best practices to evolve and implement innovative mechanisms. 

Shri Rawat urged the members give their valuable suggestions for effective implementation of the National Water Mission to achieve the twin objectives of climate change mitigation and food security. 

A Presentation on the National Water Mission was made by the Secretary Water Resources Shri Dhruv Vijay Singh on the occasions. 

The members expressed concerns on the issue of water pollution by industrial as well as mining activities especially in the tribal areas of the country. They also raised voice for ensuring availability of safe drinking water and also appropriate amount of water for agricultural activities. The issue of non-utilisation of funds by state government also came up during the discussion. The following members participated in the meeting: Shri Gajender Singh Rajukhedi (INC), Shri Mohan Jena (BJD), Dr. Prabha Kishor Taviad (INC), Shri Prataprao N. Sonawane (BJP) (all from Lok Sabha) and Dr. Prabha Thakur (INC) (from Rajya Sabha). Senior Officials from the Ministry of Water Resources was present during the meeting. 

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