ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Framework for India's Water Policy

India's annually renewable water resources are finite, subject to uncertain climatic variability. These resources have to be systematically monitored and managed to meet the legitimate needs of a diverse society. Ideally, a unifying national water policy to enable rational water management will give consideration to scientific knowledge of the nature of the resource within the set of human values to which India's democracy is committed.

An expectation of continuous, stable supplies of clean water is a v ital component of India’s economy. This expectation is constrained by the fact that because of the nature of the h ydrological cycle and India’s physiographical, climatic and geological attributes, the annual replenishable water availability is finite and subject to unpredictable variability. Persuasive evidence from more than one source (Garg and Hassan 2007; Narasimhan 2008a; 2030 WRG 2009) suggests that India’s current water usage may already be close to annual availability, and that continued water use at present rates may lead to serious shortfalls over the next two decades. Additionally, the physical and chemical integrity of India’s water resource systems is seriously jeopardised by rapid industrial and population growth. For these reasons, it is reasonable to conclude that India will benefit from a unifying national water policy that combines scientific knowledge of India’s water resource systems with the nation’s avowed democratic ideals so as to achieve an equitable sharing of this vital resource among all segments of society.

Critical to a national policy as visua lised above are three elements: the hydrological cycle, the dictating natural phenomenon; India’s water endowments, the reality that demands adaptation; and science-society interface, the human challenge. A detailed, integrated treatment of these three elements can be found in a report issued by the National I nstitute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore (Narasimhan and Gaur 2009). This note is restricted to the third of the three e lements, namely, the sciencesociety i nterface.

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