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Synopsis: Article discusses the need of new water policy in India while listing some directions based on which water policy can be drafted.
In 2019, the Ministry of Jal Shakti set up a committee to draft a new National Water Policy (NWP). The earlier NWPs of 1987, 2002 and 2012 were drafted entirely within the government system based on “command-and-control” approach towards nature.
This is the first time that the government decided to set up a committee of independent experts to draft the policy.
The committee received suggestions from various experts, academics, practitioners and stakeholders. It found consensus in the various consensus received. It clearly shows that we need a new paradigm of water management and governance to deal with the water crisis in the 21st century.
What does the water crisis teach us?
It’s teaching us that we need to respect the nature and think equally of others.
Nature is reminding us to acknowledge, with humility, our quintessential equality and inter-dependency. We need to protect Mother Nature, re-orient the development models and consumerism-driven lifestyles.
We are living in an inter-connected world. Furthermore, we cannot continue with business-as-usual approach in the search for development and modernisation as every action impacts the environment.
Till now, we failed to recognize that the economy is a small part of the larger ecosystem. This is the time we need to acknowledge the inter-connectedness and inter-dependence of the world where we live in.
For that, we need to be humble in our approach to natural systems. We also need to recognize that prakriti rakshati rakshita (Nature protects those who protect her).
What are the five water reforms that are guiding the NWP?
The five key water reforms enunciated by the prime minister are:
First, the need to break down the silos into which we have divided water;
Second, respect for the immense diversity of India while planning for water;
Third, greater focus on management and distribution of water;
Fourth, higher priority to recycling and reuse of water; and
Fifth, raising people’s awareness and people’s participation in management of water.
Final approval of the NWP rests with the National Water Resources Council, which is chaired by the prime minister and includes all chief ministers as members.
Source: This post is based on the article “A new water policy for India” published in the Business Standard on 20th September 2021.