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

National Water PolicySubscribe to National Water Policy

The New National Water Policy

The revision of the National Water Policy was a wholly internal governmental exercise, with no consultations with people and institutions outside. Further, it was a mere 'amendment' exercise, and the resulting document can hardly be described as a 'new policy'. The two most egregious failures of the new NWP are in relation to water-harvesting and community management of water. The prime minister's speech to the NWRC stressed both, but there is nothing corresponding to this in the NWP. Important controversies such as those relating to water as 'commodity' versus water as 'commons' or 'a basic right', the desirability of water markets, etc, are ignored. A valuable opportunity for a comprehensive review and a well-considered new statement has been lost. However, NWP 2002 is now the officially declared policy, and will stay in place for some years. While pointing out deficiencies and calling for revisions, the attempt must be to see what can be done with the document as it exists. Through proper, effective and repeated citation, the document can in fact be made to come alive and serve useful purposes.

Water: Charting a Course for the Future - II

Water has suddenly become a favoured subject for seminars and conferences all over the world. A common trend in most of the discussions is to proceed from projections of demand to supply-side solutions in the form of 'water resource development' projects; estimate the massive investment funds needed; take note of the severe limitations on the availability of financial resources with governments; point to private sector investment as the answer; and stress the need for policy change to facilitate this. In India, consciousness of the importance of the subject led to the appointment of the first National Commission on water, which submitted its report in September 1999. This paper attempts to provide a broad and compendious account of the state of affairs in India as far as water resources are concerned and to chart a course for the future. [The paper has been published in two parts, this being the second part. The first part appeared last week.]
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