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NITI Aayog’s Water Resources Strategy

NITI Aayog’s Water Resources Strategy

Tag: GS-3 || Economy || Structure of the Indian Economy || Natural Resources

What is the issue?

  • NITI Aayog released its ‘ Strategy for New India @75 ‘ in December 2018, setting clear goals for 2022-23.
  • In this document, the strategy for ‘water resources’ is unrealistic as it was in the successive National Water Policies (NWP).

Essentials needed for a plan to be effective?

  • There are three basic criteria for effective strategic planning.
    • Acknowledge and analyze past failures.
    • Suggest realistic and implementable goals.
    • Stipulate who will do what, and within what time frame.
  • The water ‘ strategy ‘ of the NITI Aayog fails in all three respects.

 Is there a new outlook?

  • Two failed proposals were repeated in the document
    • Adoption of an Integrated river basin management approach
      • For 70 years, the integrated management theory has been around, but not even one medium-sized basin has been handled in the world.
    • Establishment of large river River Basin Organizations (RBOs).
      • 32 years after the NWP recommended RBOs in 1987, not a single one for any major basin was formed.
    • Regulatory authority of water
      • The regulatory authority for water resources is another failed idea.
      • Without examining and analyzing the reasons for the failure of the already established WRA, the establishment of Water Resources regulatory authorities was recommended.
    • The strategy paper notes that a huge gap exists between the capacity for irrigation produced and used.
    • It proposes that the Ministry of Water create an action plan to complete the creation of the Command Area (CAD) in order to reduce the gap.
    • Again, a recommendation is made without analyzing why CAD works remain incomplete.

Goals mentioned in the document

  • Provide an adequate, secure and safe supply of piped water.
  • To provide all farms, factories, and industries with water.
  • Ensure that all Indian rivers flow continuously and cleanly.
  • Long-term groundwater sustainability.
  • Coverage for proper water supply operation and maintenance.
  • Use of 690 billion cubic meters of surface water resources.
  • Improving the quality of water use on the ranch.
  • Achieve zero-emission from industrial units of untreated effluents.
  • For a 5-year period, these are too optimistic and absurdly impractical.
  • Not even one of these targets has been accomplished in any state.
  • A strategy document must specify who will be responsible and accountable for achieving the specific goals, and in what time-frame.
  • Otherwise, no one will accept the responsibility to carry out various tasks, and nothing will get done

Constraints listed

  • Potential for irrigation created but not being used.
  • Poor irrigation systems efficiency and indiscriminate use of water in agriculture.
  • Weak plan execution and maintenance.
  • Crop variations that are not associated with agro-climatic areas.
  • Subsidized water rates.
  • Residents are not provided with piped water.
  • Groundwater pollution.
  • The Easement Act, 1882 giving farmers rights to own groundwater resulted in unchecked groundwater extraction.
  • Only the Easement Act is, in reality, a constraint on these issues listed under’ constraints.’
  • The proposals mentioned under’ moving forward’ and’ suggested changes ‘ do not specify how any of these will happen.
  • These are problems caused by 72 years of mismanagement in the water sector and continue to be obstacles for the future.

What did the document failed to do?

  • Real constraints are not defined in the text.
  • It states that the interlinking project between the Ken-Betwa River, the Pancheshwar project between India and Nepal and the Siang project in northeastern India must be completed.
  • A major obstacle to the completion of these ventures is public interest litigation (PIL) brought before the National Green Court, the Supreme Court or various High Courts.
  • Projects will remain stuck in courtrooms unless the government checks that PIL is misused for environmental posturing.
  • The report does not mention any concrete and successful changes that were implemented but later stalled.

Way forward

  • Water problems in India can be solved with existing knowledge, technology and funding.
  • However, India’s water establishment needs to admit that the strategy followed to date has not succeeded only then can there emerge a practical vision.
  • The NITI Aayog should not have recommended a continuation of the unsuccessful policies of the past.  It helps India to continue walking on the futile road it has been following for decades, far from addressing our water problems.

Mains model question

  • NITI Aayog’s water resource policy is a continuation of past failures. Critically analyze.