Revised draft of the National Water Policy 2012, released by the Ministry of Water Resources in June 2012

The revised draft is divided into the following sections:


1. Preamble
This sets the framework for the policy, including the present scenario, concerns, and basic principles of water resource management. This mentions the interdependence of all elements of the hydrological cycle, and of the need for equity.


The two drafts differ from each other only on one crucial point. The term 'ecological needs' has been preceded by 'minimum' in the second draft. Considering that ecosystems depend on a range of flows that together form the flow regime of a river, and looking at the criminal inadequacy of 'minimum discharge' as practiced today, this regression from ecological flows to 'minimum ecological need' is extremely disturbing.


2. Water framework law
The  'overarching water framework law'  mentioned in the first draft is elaborated upon here. It is defined as 'an umbrella statement of general principles governing the exercise of legislative and/or executive (or devolved) powers by the Centre, the States and the local governing bodies'.  The framework law emphasises the need to manage water under public trust doctrine and recommends the modification of existing acts that give proprietary rights over groundwater.


3. Uses of water
The first draft's recommendation to consider water as an economic good after setting aside a 'minimum quantity' for drinking water and ecological needs has been removed in this version.


4. Adaptation to climate change
This section mentions variability in water resources, the need to experiment with cropping patterns, and describes dams and flood embankments as coping strategies. The revised version differs from the earlier in its recognising demand management as a viable adaptation strategy.


5. Enhancing water available for use
This section lays heavy stress on large centralized engineering both while estimating water availability and while determining a strategy for future use. Inter-basin transfers are considered necessary in both the drafts. However, the revised version mentions the use of 'integrated watershed development activities with groundwater perspectives' for increasing land and water productivity. This is a healthy step towards integrating the conservation of ground and surface water.


6. Demand management and water use efficiency
Water audit, institutional arrangements for demand management, reuse and recycle are considered. The revised version does not deviate significantly from the first draft. However, it does emphasise to a greater degree the importance of water audits and water footprints.


7. Water pricing
The revised version maintains the original premise that beyond basic needs, water is to be treated an an economic good and priced accordingly. Differential pricing for basic needs, volumetric pricing, incentives for recycling water and the establishment of a state water regulatory authority are the measures suggested in the second draft.


8. Conservation of river corridors, water bodies and infrastructure
'River corridors' and other water bodies are threatened by over-exploitation, pollution, and infrastructure development. This section talks of the need for their conservation. The revised version is true to the spirit of the first draft, but refines a few points touched upon earlier. These include protection of aquifer recharge areas and reservoir catchments, and maintenance of urban water bodies.


9. Project planning and implementation
This concerns itself with the speedy execution of projects through concurrent monitoring by the State and the Centre. The revised draft appears to dismiss responsible stewardship of the environment by incorporating two significant changes. It recommends that environmental clearance be made time bound to reduce 'economic loss due to delay in implementation of projects'. This will cause environmental clearance to mean superficial adherence to the letter of the law rather than a honest and unbiased evaluation of environmental impacts.


Similarly, it recommends that hydropower projects should be planned with provision of storage. This ignores the several studies and testimonies that prove that storage-based hydroelectricity projects are catastrophic to earthquake-vulnerable and biodiversity-rich areas like the Himalayas.


10A. Resettlement and rehabilitation (Deleted)
The earlier draft had a short section on this important topic. While this section lacked details,  its presence implied that the issue was being taken cognizance of. The chapter has been deleted in the revised version. This seems to indicate that the MoWR does not consider the resettlement and rehabilitation of people displaced by water projects to be its responsibility.


10. Management of flood and drought
Earlier titled 'Preparedness for flood and drought', its focus was on developing structural controls for floods and on developing disaster management plans. This technocentric approach holds good. Both versions also acknowledge that protection is not fool-proof and so encourage the need for developing coping strategies and mechanisms.


11. Water supply and sanitation
Reducing the disparity between urban and rural water supply, encouraging water metering and water audits are mentioned in both the drafts. The revised version recommends offering incentives for decentralised and water-saving sanitation and sewerage systems. It also recommends rainwater harvesting and desalination rather than the latter alone, as a means of increasing water availability in urban and industrial areas.


12. Institutional arrangements
Mechanisms to resolve water disuptes within the states and at the national level are recommended.  The earlier explicit recommendation that the State confine itself to regulation of services, while provision is to be done by the community or private sector has been modified. Instead, there is a suggestion that the State can now decide to encourage the private sector to become a service provider. This results in the role of service provider being g denied to the community.


13. Transboundary rivers
Earlier titled 'international rivers', this section stresses developing bilateral agreements while maintaining national interests.


14. Database and information system
A separate authority is recommended to manage data related to water, other than data that has to be kept secret due to national security reasons. An important revision in the new draft is the recommendation of a periodic review for declassification of data. It also recommends a programme of intensive data collection for studying climate change.


15. Research and training needs
There are no significant differences between the two drafts.


16. Implementation of the National water policy
This section, new to this draft, recommends that the National Water Board create and monitor the implementation of a plan of action based on the water policy.


Comments from the public on the first draft
A summary and discussion of the first draft is available on the India Water Portal here. The following is a summary of the responses received from readers, on the first draft:


•Several readers expressed concern over the relatively short time allowed for receiving comments. A 90-day notice, adequate representation of BPL households and SC/ST people in the stakeholder meetings, advertisements informing people of the draft were recommended measures to ensure participation in  true spirit.
•A reduction in water withdrawal through demand management, increased water use efficiency,  recycling and reuse was emphasised as necessary, and ways of achieving this goal were outlined.
•The use of alternative technologies and decentralised projects for water harvesting and flood mitigation were suggested. At the same time, users recommended the establishment of an administrative system on geographical principles for coordination, operation and control of our water resources.
•The first draft's leanings towards privatization of water hit a nerve, with several users emphasizing that water is a natural resource and not a commodity.


Draft National Water policy 2012 Released in Jan 2012


In pursuance of the strategies identified in National Water Mission Document as well as deliberations in National Water Board, Ministry of Water Resources had initiated the process of reviewing the National Water Policy, 2002. Accordingly, the Drafting Committee on National Water Policy has evolved the draft policy after taking into consideration recommendations of various stake holders. The Salient Features of Draft National Water Policy (NWP, 2012) are:
1.Even while recognizing that the States have the right to frame suitable policies, laws and regulations on water, the draft NWP, 2012 lays emphasis on the need for a national water framework law, comprehensive legislation for optimum development of inter-State rivers and river valleys, public trust doctrine, amendment of the Indian Easements Act, 1882, etc.
2. Basic minimum quantity for essential health & hygiene and sustenance of ecology has been defined as pre-emptive need, which must be ensured. Water has been recognized as economic good, over and above pre-emptive need, for the first time, which would promote maximization of value of water and its conservation and efficient use.
3.The draft NWP, 2012 presents a holistic picture of ecological need of the river rather than restricting it to only minimum flow requirement. It states that the ecological needs of the river should be determined recognizing that river flows are characterized by low or no flows, small floods (freshets), large floods and flow variability and should accommodate development needs. A portion of river flows should be kept aside to meet ecological needs ensuring that the proportional low and high flow releases correspond in time closely to the natural flow regime.
4.The draft NWP, 2012 recognizes the need to adapt to climate change scenario in planning and implementation of water resources projects. Coping strategies for designing and management of water resources structures and review of acceptability criteria has been emphasized.
5.Need and approaches towards enhancing water availability have been stipulated. Direct use of rainfall and avoidance of inadvertent evapo-transpiration have been proposed as the new additional strategies for augmenting utilizable water resources.
6.Mapping of the aquifers to know the quantum and quality of ground water resources (replenishable as well as non-replenishable) in the country has been proposed with provision of periodic updation.
7.Water use efficiency has been emphasized. A system to evolve benchmarks for water uses for different purposes, i.e., water footprints, and water auditing should be developed to ensure efficient use of water. Project financing has been suggested as a tool to incentivize efficient & economic use of water.
8. Provision of setting up of Water Regulatory Authority and adequate water pricing to incentivize recycle and re-use has been specified.
9.Water Users Associations should be given statutory powers to collect and retain a portion of water charges, manage the volumetric quantum of water allotted to them and maintain the distribution system in their jurisdiction.
10.The draft NWP, 2012 proposes reversal of heavy under-pricing of electricity, which leads to wasteful use of both electricity and water.
11.The draft NWP, 2012 recognizes encroachment and diversion of water bodies and emphasizes the need for their restoration with community participation.
12.The draft NWP, 2012 proposes setting aside a suitable percentage of the costs of infrastructure development, which along with collected water charges, may be utilized for repair and maintenance. Contract for construction of projects should have inbuilt provision for longer periods of proper maintenance and handing over back the infrastructure in good condition.
13.Pari-passu planning and execution of all components of water resources projects have been proposed so that intended benefits start accruing immediately after completion and there is no gap between potential created and potential utilized.
14.All water resources projects, including hydro power projects, should be planned to the extent feasible as multi-purpose projects with provision of storage to derive maximum benefit from available topology and water resources.
15.Project affected families to be made partners in progress and given a share in the benefits comparable to project benefitted families, who may bear part of the cost of resettlement & rehabilitation through adequate pricing.
16.The draft NWP, 2012 lays emphasis on preparedness for flood / drought with coping up mechanisms as an option. Frequency based flood inundation maps should be prepared to evolve coping strategies.
17.There is a need to remove the large disparity between stipulations for water supply in urban areas and in rural areas to bring equality between rural and urban people.
18.The draft NWP, 2012 proposes a forum at the national level to deliberate upon issues relating to water and evolve consensus, co-operation and reconciliation amongst party States. A similar mechanism should be established within each State to amicably resolve differences in competing demands for water amongst different users of water, as also between different parts of the State.
19.The “Service Provider” role of the state should be gradually shifted to that of a regulator of services and facilitator for strengthening the institutions responsible for planning, implementation and management of water resources. The water related services should be transferred to community and / or private sector with appropriate “Public Private Partnership” model.
20.Appropriate institutional arrangements for each river basin should be developed to collect and collate all data on regular basis with regard to rainfall, river flows, area irrigated by crops and by source, utilizations for various uses by both surface and ground water and to publish water accounts on ten daily basis every year for each river basin with appropriate water budgets and water accounts based on the hydrologic balances.
21.The darft NWP, 2012 proposes negotiations about sharing and management of water of international rivers on bilateral basis in consultative association with riparian States keeping paramount the national interests.
22.All hydrological data other than those classified as secret on national security consideration should be in public domain. Setting up of a National Water Informatics Center has been proposed.
23.Continuing research and advancement in technology should be promoted to address the issues in water sector in a scientific manner. Innovations in water resources sector should be recognized and awarded. A center for research in water policy should also be established to evolve policy directives for changing scenario of water resources.
24.It is necessary to give adequate grants to the States to update technology, design practices, planning and management practices, preparation of annual water balances and accounts for the site and basin, preparation of hydrologic balances for water systems, and benchmarking and performance evaluation.
The series of consultation meetings held to evolve the draft policy were as follows;
1.With Hon’ble Members of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources, Consultative Committee for Ministry of Water Resources and Parliamentary Forum on Water Conservation and Management on 28th July, 2010, at New Delhi.
2.With Academia, Experts and Professionals on 26th October, 2010 at New Delhi.
3.With Non-Governmental Organizations held on 11th & 12th January, 2011 at New Delhi.
4.With Corporate Sector held on 21st March, 2011 at New Delhi.
5.With representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions on 16th June, 2011 at Hyderabad, on 30th June, 2011 at Shillong, on 14th July, 2011 at Jaipur and on 2nd November, 2011 at Pune.
The Drafting Committee comprising of Dr. S.R. Hashim, former Member, Planning Commission and Chairman, Union Public Service Commission; Prof. Subhash Chander, former Professor, IIT, Delhi; Shri A.D. Mohile, former Chairman, Central Water Commission; and Shri S.C. Jain, an expert from an NGO was constituted for drafting of the National Water Policy.       This Committee was supported by a team of officers from Ministry of Water Resources, Central Water Commission, Central Ground Water Board, National Rainfed Area Authority; National Institute of Hydrology and Planning Commission.
Considering the recommendations and feedback received during various consultation meetings, the Drafting Committee identified basic concerns in water resources sector and adopted basic principles which should be followed to address those concerns, and accordingly, evolved draft policy recommendations.
The draft National Water Policy (2012) has also been put up on the website of Ministry of Water Resources and arrangement is being made to facilitate posting of online comments/suggestions. The comments may also be mailed to


The draft National Water Policy, 2012 shall remain open for comments till 29th February, 2012. After carrying necessary modifications, it would be placed before National Water Board and National Water Resources Council for finalization and adoption. (Source: Press Information Bureau) Read revised draft

29-05-2015 | Posted by Admin