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«1 At the outset, Shri Prabodh Panda, Member-Convener of the Parliamentary Forum on Water Conservation and Management welcomed the Members of the ...»

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At the outset, Shri Prabodh Panda, Member-Convener of the

Parliamentary Forum on Water Conservation and Management welcomed

the Members of the Forum and other Members present and stated that

amongst all the natural resources, water was indeed a very precious and

indispensable resource which needed to be managed carefully. He further

stated that the need for innovative approaches in water management had

become more urgent due to increase in demand for water attributed to

growing population, industrialization and urbanization. He emphasized on the need to adopt better management practices to ensure efficient utilization of available water. Thereafter, the Member-Convener welcomed and invited Dr. Kirit S. Parikh, Chairman, Expert Group for Low Carbon Strategy for Inclusive Growth and former Member (Water Resources), Planning Commission to make his presentation on the subject `Integrated Water Management: Policy and Action’.

(Power point presentation was made by Dr. Kirit S. Parikh on the subject `Integrated Water Management: Policy and Action’) During his presentation, Dr. Parikh reflected on various water related problems, viz. falling ground water tables, dwindling per-capita water availability, slower irrigation expansion, deteriorating water infrastructures and their poor maintenance, lack of access to potable water in many rural habitations, looming threat of climate change, inter-state water sharing disputes and uneven distribution of rainfall. He further stated that the major goal of water management policy was to ensure availability of adequate clean water for households, irrigation and industry at reasonable cost as well as preserving ecological health and environment. He suggested various steps like artificial recharge, rain water harvesting, desalination and inter linking of rivers to augment water resources. Regarding inter-State water disputes, he was of the view that the river water disputes should be brought under the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and stressed on the need for fixing a time frame for resolving such differences.

While explaining about the artificial recharge and storage needs, he stated that the reservoir planning needed to be based on the nature of water demand. About the ground water irrigation, he stated that there should be a check on land owners who were using ground water without any control as ground water depletion affected small and marginal level farmers. He stated that the community management of ground water resources should be aided by technical inputs from the State and groundwater development should be limited to sustainable levels. In the context of water for household use, he informed that at present the norm was 40 litres per capita in rural areas and stated that ground water overexploitation had led to slipping back of habitations. Accordingto him, arsenic contamination in water required either alternate source or costly RO treatment. He was of the view that the percentage of unaccounted for water (pilferage and leakages) in urban areas needed to be brought down and emphasized that water infrastructure and urban development should go hand in hand. While talking about industrial water use, he stated that use of water in industrial areas was estimated to be 5% (35 BCM) and it was estimated to increase to 8% (80 BCM) by 2050. He suggested that efficient use of water could be encouraged through various incentives. He also stated that effluent quality standards should be strictly enforced for industrial water use. To consume water and to use it efficiently, he suggested monitoring ground water levels to restrain usage levels, promoting micro-irrigation and adopting water efficient toilets.

While talking about water quality, he stated that sewage was the major polluter due to which ground water was polluted at many places. He also emphasized that industrial pollution could be addressed with strict implementation of the pollution control laws. He was of the view that water infrastructure had to be planned and designed to address climate change and that there was a need to develop cropping pattern and agriculture practices resilient to climate change. For integrated water management, he emphasized on various aspects like augmenting resources, managing irrigation, expanding storage, inter-linking of rivers, conserving and using water efficiently, capacity building and policy coordination.

After the presentation, the Member-Convener requested Shri Salman Khursheed, Hon’ble Minister of Water Resources and Vice-President of the Forum, to make his intervention on the subject.

Shri Salman Khursheed, while thanking the Member-Convener, stated that the presentation made by Dr. Parikh was on an important topic which was intricately connected with our lives. He stated that in the entire presentation there was a perspective because till now the discussion on water just got restricted upto State and Institutional level. He emphasized that the efforts should be made to increase dialogue with the civil society on water related issues in order to seek its support. He felt that the consent, cooperation and support of the common man was instrumental in achieving success in managing water resources. He also advocated to have a comprehensive debate on the subject. He also mentioned about linking of the rivers and problems faced at the State Government level in implementing it.

Shri Ram Kishun, MP, Lok Sabha expressed his concern regarding the decline in ground water level and rain water. To save rain water wastage, he suggested increase in the height of embankments of the rivers, deepening of river beds, building barrages on small rain water fed rivers to hold water during last phase of rainy season as that would not only recharge ground water but the water saved could also be used for irrigation purposes.

Shri Jagdanand Singh, MP, Lok Sabha was of the view that since the water policy was being formulated hence this subject needed to be discussed further. He drew attention towards the fact that flood management had not been included as one of the main points in the current National Water Policy. He informed that he was associated with the formulation of the second National Water Policy in 2001-2002 in which priority was given to water usage only. He stated that the third National Water Policy was in the process of being formulated and felt that drinking water had to be its prime priority and second priority needed to be accorded to saving ecology and environment. While talking about artificial recharge, he stated that the process of natural recharging of the rivers was being disturbed. According to him, the major cause of ground water pollution was that hundred percent sand was being extracted from the river beds for commercial use which disturbed the ecological environment.

He was of the view that the sub basin of rivers within a State should be interlinked and flood management and drought management should also be interlinked.

Shri Gorakh Nath Pandey, MP, Lok Sabha stated that the State Governments and the Union Government should formulate schemes to create awareness amongst the general public about streamlining the ground water management. He drew attention towards wastage of rain water, non-implementation of projects relating to construction of dams and embankments, increasing the level of ground water, pollution of groundwater and boring of polluted water into ground by people in industrial areas. He suggested that to accumulate water, ground water level should be recharged and dams and embankments and ponds and wells should be constructed. He further suggested that a massive campaign to grow trees should be launched at village level.

Shri Jayant Chaudhary, MP, Lok Sabha emphasized on the participation of local people in formulation of schemes and in management of water. He stated that there were several problems of water filtration in his constituency and added that though creation of a community based asset had been envisaged but people were not ready to maintain and run it. He enquired as to how agricultural production could be increased by propagating micro irrigation, rain water harvesting and using minimum water and emphasized to develop a targetted programme for this. He also enquired about the prescribed standard for Water Use Efficiency in respect of industries and its monitoring.

Shri Ratan Singh, M.P., Lok Sabha stated that Rajasthan was a State which was totally dependent on monsoon for water. He suggested that arrangements should be made for storing flood water by constructing big dams on rivers. Commenting upon the bad quality of water, he stated that in Rajasthan there was excessive quantity of fluoride and a special drive for de-fluorisation was started. He added that such special measures should also be initiated in different States for de-fluorisatin so that all could get safe drinking water. He stressed upon starting a drive to clean rivers by preventing discharge of sewer water and waste water of industries into the rivers. He advocated constitution of a compact body to monitor management of water and to look into cleaning of rivers, quality and quantity of water and inter-linking of rivers.

Shri Umashankar Singh, MP, Lok Sabha stated that small rivers and nallah in villages and country side were filling with silt and mud. In Bihar only fifty per cent of the land was available for cultivation due to floods and that too was shrinking further. He stated that release of water from Nepal was also responsible for floods in Bihar. He apprised that there were several districts where thousands of acres of land remained submerged in water and could not be cultivated through out the year and suggested to drain this stagnant water to make the land cultivable. He suggested to desilt the rivers, to drain stagnant water through the formulation of scheme and to have a dialogue with Nepal at national level to control floods.

Shri Sher Singh Ghubaya, MP, Lok Sabha stated that there were some areas in various States where ground water was not worth drinking.

He also expressed his concern over the declining ground water level in Punjab which had gone 70-80 feet down. He stated that the State Government had no power to utilize the funds for floods given by the Central Government and advocated giving powers to the State Government to utilize the funds for floods before the floods actually come, for repairing the embankments and desilting the rivers so as to minimize the losses from floods. He also suggested to give due compensation to farmers whose crops got destroyed in floods.

Shri Gyan Prakash Pilania, MP, Rajya Sabha stressed upon the need for people’s cooperation for Integrated Water Management and stated that without their cooperation, water collection, conservation and its management was impossible. He felt that everyone should realize that he/she was a stakeholder and it was his/her duty to prevent wastage of water and use it efficiently. He was of the view that such realization starting from household level, if taken to industrial and agricultural level, could conserve water. He further stressed on the census and restoration of old ponds with community participation as restoration of old ponds was much easier than construction of new ones. He also stated that instead of flood irrigation, sprinkle and drip irrigation should be encouraged by giving incentives for micro irrigation. He also dwelt upon water pollution. He was of the view that artificial re-charge of ground water through dug wells was the cheapest scheme. He also talked about intra-linking of rivers and water budgeting.

Shri Mahendra Kumar Roy, MP, Lok Sabha stated that in Jalpaiguri there were several small rivers and siltation was the major problem due to erosion of dolomite in Bhutan which also led to floods in rivers. He desired that the Governments of India and Bhutan should have a dialogue for resolving this problem. He also drew attention towards the Teesta project which could not be completed due to paucity of funds and stressed to complete this project.

Shri R.K. Singh Patel, MP, Lok Sabha expressed his concern over the climate change and declining rainfall in India. While giving the example of road corridor from Kolkata to Peshawar, he suggested that to fill the ponds, dams and dried up rivers, State-wise irrigation corridors could be constructed by utilizing the sea water after purifying it. He observed that in some countries there was facility of artificial rain and since there was sea and oceans on three sides of our country, a system for artificial rainfall could be evolved for drought prone areas. He informed that in Bundelkhand, interlinking of rivers had been started and this had benefitted a lot, as excess water of flood in one area was diverted to the areas where there was shortage of water. He suggested that the Government should fix quota for MPs for installing hand pumps in their respective constituencies on their recommendation to overcome drinking water crisis.

Dr. Barun Mukherji, MP, Rajya Sabha informed that there was a longstanding objective of ensuring quality drinking water to all with reasonable access, but it had not been possible to achieve it even after 64 years of independence. He enquired about the relative responsibility of the Centre and the State to fulfill this objective.

Dr. Pulin Bihari Baske, MP, Lok Sabha stated that there was an acute shortage of water in several districts of South-West Bengal. The ground water level in those areas had gone deep down and hand pumps and dug wells had dried up. He stated that no action had been taken in respect of linking of inter-State rivers and emphasized to pay attention towards this.

He suggested to have a separate mechanism for ensuring water availability and its management.

Shri Kaushalendra Kumar, MP, Lok Sabha stated that Nalanda District of Bihar was in the grip of drought for the last three to four years. He desired that the Government should extend help to the proposal of State Governments for interlinking of its rivers to overcome water shortage problems.

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