The Draft National Water Policy 2011 was released on 31st January 2012, for public comments and is available here.
A section of the water sector practitioners and experts, have been engaged in the process, and a summary of the discussions so far, is available here.
Work on the National Water Policy has been in progress for nearly two years, starting in 2010 when the announcement was first made. Consultative meetings with academia, water professionals and the corporate sector were organised in 2010 and early 2011. Meetings with representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions and non-governmental organisations were organised in 2011 at Shillong, Hyderabad, Jaipur, New Delhi, and Pune. Minutes of these discussions are available on the MoWR website here. This PIB press release from the Ministry, summarizes the salient points of the policy document.
The draft is divided into the following sections:
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.
2. Water law
The need for an 'overarching water framework law' is mentioned. It mentions the need for 'development of inter-state rivers and river valleys' as also the need to consider groundwater as a public trust and not a private good.
3. Uses of water
Here, it is determined to prioritise a minimum amount of potable water as a basic human right and ecological flows.
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.
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.
6. Demand management and water use efficiency
Water audit, institutional arrangements for demand management, reuse and recycle are considered.
7. Water pricing
Beyond basic needs, water is to be treated an an economic good and priced accordingly. The same is said of electricity, as otherwise wastage of water is encouraged.
8. Preservation 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.
9. Project planning and implementation
This concerns itself with the speedy execution of projects through concurrent monitoring by the State and the Centre.
10. Resettlement and rehabilitation
Displaced people are to be made partners in development by due attention to compensation.
11. Preparedness for flood and drought
The focus is on developing structural controls for floods and on developing disaster management plans.
12. Water supply and sanitation
Reducing the disparity between urban and rural water supply, encouraging water metering and water audits are mentioned.
13. Institutional arrangements
A state-level water authority, a central water disputes tribunal, and a national forum for water are all recommended. It is also recommended that the State confine itself to regulation of services, while provision is to be done by the community or private sector.
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.
15. Research and training needs
This too recommends the establishment of a separate national-level training centre.
16. International rivers
The importance of developing bilateral agreements is stressed upon.
Here is a snapshot of the most frequently used words in the Draft National Water Policy 2012
Comments to the Ministry on the draft National Water Policy 2012, have to be emailed to: email@example.com. Last date for sending comments is 29th Feb 2012.
You can also add your as a comment to this page below or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will compile and send your feedback to the Ministry.
Summary list of important references:
Draft National Water Policy 2012 (English)
Draft National Water Policy 2012 (Hindi)
PIB press release on the National Water Policy 2012
Summary of consultative meetings organised by the MoWR over 2010-11 for developing the National Water Policy 2012
Responsible, harmonious, just and wise: Will this be true of India's new National Water Policy?
Not the farmers, not the environment: Draft National Policy 2012 seems to help only vested interests - Press release by SANDRP
Alternative National Water Policy: Ramaswamy Iyer's response to comments by Rahul Banerjee and Chetan Pandit in EPW
Alternative National Water Policy by Ramaswamy R Iyer - A critique by Chetan Pandit in EPW
Alternative National Water Policy by Ramaswamy R Iyer – Comments by Rahul Banerjee
National Water Policy - An alternative draft for consideration by Ramaswamy R Iyer in EPW