National water policy and state water policy of Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh

National water policy, 2002 Read policy 

National water policy, 1987 Read policy

Also view critique of National Water Policy (2002) by Ranjit Devraj, a correspondent with Inter Press Service. He feels that the new Policy emphasises continued government control over water resources, ignoring pleas by environmental groups to involve local communities in order to overcome looming water shortages. Read more

Assam state water policy, 2007 

Assam state water policy is prescribed in accordance to the guidelines and general directions in the National Water Policy - 2002, keeping in view the specific necessity for the State of Assam. In view of the inter-State water disputes, the State Water Policy has specific importance. The Policy envisages a long-term water resource management program designed to develop a critical mass of indigenous productivity with the requisite technical , economic and sociocultural means for sustainable development.

It adopts integrated water resource management as a core strategy, based on the principles of water as a finite resource, need to use a participatory approach, the crucial role of men and women, ensuring clean water for human health and looking at water both as an economic and social good. The first priority in the strategy would, however, be development of a systematic knowledge base to examine the current understanding of integrated freshwater management quantitatively and qualitatively.

In the planning and operation of the systems, water allocation priorities would be broadly as follows: (1) Drinking and domestic use (2) Sustaining livelihoods - aquaculture, cottage industries (3) Sustaining environment, maintaining river systems, wetland systems and aquatic life (4) Irrigation and hydropower (5) Agro-based and rural industries (6) Thermal power and industries (7) Recreation and religious uses and (8) Navigation and other uses.

The detailed action program on the following are provided –

  • Partnership with Communities in Water Resources Management
  • Water Quality and Quantity Monitoring
  • Financing Projects and Water Service Charges
  • Project Implementation and Monitoring
  • Safety
  • Disaster Management
  • Rainwater Harvesting and Water Conservation
  • Legislation and Regulation
  • Training, Research and Science & Technology
  • Water Literacy and Awareness Generation

The policy also details the proposed strategic administrative initiatives and institutional mechanisms -

  • State Water Resources Board/Council
  • State Water Resources Development Authority
  • State Water Resources Data & Information Centre 

Read policy

Himachal Pradesh state water policy, 2005 

Himachal Pradesh state water policy was brought out in 2005 as the efforts to develop, conserve, utilize and manage this important resource in a sustainable manner have to be guided by the State's perspective.

In Himachal Pradesh availability of water is highly uneven in both space and time.  Planning and implementation of water related projects has many socio-economic aspects and issues such as environmental sustainability, resettlement and rehabilitation of project-affected people and livestock, public health concerns of water impoundment, dam safety etc. The State Water Policy provides clear guidelines on these matters.

Moreover, certain problems and weaknesses have affected the water resources projects that have been implemented or are in the process of implementation in the State. Complex issues of equity and social justice in regard to water usage and distribution have to be addressed systematically. The development and exploitation of the groundwater resources in the state have raised concerns about the need for scientific management and conservation.

Some points made in the State Water Policy are –

  • The state water policy must be implemented in a manner that promotes a participatory approach and involves local communities and stakeholders, including women, in the management of water resources, in an effective and decisive manner in various aspects of planning, design, development and management of the water related schemes.
  • Necessary legal and institutional changes shall be made at various levels for the purpose, duly ensuring more meaningful decision making roles for women. Water Users' Associations and the Iocal bodies such as municipalities and gram panchayats shall particularly be involved in the operation, maintenance and the management of water related infrastructure/facilities at appropriate levels, progressively, with a view to eventually transfer the management of such facilities to the user groups/local bodies.
  • Private sector participation may also be encouraged wherever feasible in planning, development and management of the water resources for the usage of the general public and the community.
  • A standardized state information system should be established with a network of data banks and data bases, integrating the State and Central level agencies and improving the quality of data collection and analysis.
  • In the planning and operation of systems, water allocation priorities should be broadly as follows: (1) Drinking water (2) Irrigation (3) Ecology/ Afforestation/ Biodiversity/ Tourism (4) Agro-industries (5) Hydro-power (6) Non-agro-based industries and (7) Navigation and other uses. Read policy

Karnataka state water policy, 2002 

Karnataka state water policy (2002) provides an overview of the water resource situation and addresses the likely problem of serious destabilization of the water sector affecting the hydrology, economy and ecology in the State. The need for the State Water Policy, key issues and future vision are underlined.

As regards institutional arrangement, for multi-sectoral water planning, inter-sectoral water allocation, planning of water development programmes, management decisions, and resolution of water resources issues, a State Water Resources Board will be established. The Water Resources Development Organization will act, as technical secretariat for the State Water Resources Board. A State Water Resources Data and Information Center will also be established.

In planning and operation of water resources projects, water allocation priorities shall be broadly as follows: a. Drinking water b. Irrigation c. Hydropower d. Aquaculture e. Agro industries f. Non-Agricultural Industries and g. Navigation and other uses. For implementing the above aspects, an action agenda is proposed, some action points being -

  • Formulate and implement projects and schemes of rainwater harvesting and recharging of underground water sources, with community participation.
  • Establish State Water Resources Board. Complete review of existing policies and formulate new policies. Review existing legislative framework, draft new legislation and propose amendments to existing legislative framework within 12 months, in order to achieve the objectives.
  • Complete all on-going and committed water resource development projects by 2005.
  • Complete Command Area Development works by 2006 consistent with the policy of decentralization and participation.
  • Undertake and complete rehabilitation and development of all Minor Irrigation Tanks on the basis of participation by water-users including farmer, within period of 10 years and entrust these works and also subsequent Operation & Maintenance with Tank Users Associations which will themselves regulate water use, cropping pattern, levy and collection of water-user charges. Read policy

Kerala state water policy, 2008 

Kerala in 2008 declared its water policy acknowledging water as a public resource and asserting the right of the citizens for access to the resource. Water could indeed become a very scarce commodity in future due to global warming and consequent climate change. No longer can the abundant availability of water for its mounting needs be taken for granted. Conserving all water resources in the best way possible, coordinating the efforts of various government agencies and involving the people themselves in the task, has now become a crucial necessity, according to the policy document.

Kerala shall not enter into any new water transfer pacts with neighbouring States without the consent of the State legislature. The policy stipulates treating each river basin as a unit while planning water conservation measures and deciding how the resources on hand shall be apportioned among various consumer groups. The first priority is for domestic consumers. Next in the list are the farmers, followed by power generation, agro-processing sector and industrial/commercial customers, in that order. Commercial use of water is to be subjected to stringent regulations.

Existing laws and rules on the use of water required a thorough review in the light of the policy, formulated by the government after several rounds of discussions with experts and all stakeholders. The policy proposes new laws for setting up River and Wetland Authority and regulating groundwater exploitation. The policy specifies measures against the delays that have become a norm, rather than an exception, in the execution of drinking water and irrigation projects in Kerala.

It says that no more big irrigation projects are advisable for the State. The focus henceforth shall be on small projects, especially lift irrigation schemes that can reduce water wastage. Rainwater harvesting, protection of forest cover, preventing water pollution with stringent penal provisions against the polluters, checking saline water intrusion into inland water sources and strengthening research are some of the other focus areas mentioned in the water policy.

The major objectives of this policy are to:

  • adopt integrated and multi-sectoral approach for planning, development and management of water resources;
  • consider micro watersheds as the basic unit for the conservation and optimal utilization of water resources for achieving resources sustainability;
  • integrate the problems and prospects of water resource systems by considering river basin as the basic unit; 
  • emphasize the importance of comprehensive watershed conservation and management plan, water quality management plan, long-term sub-basin and river basin operation and monitoring plan and state water resource plan; and, 
  • enable appropriate institutional mechanism and legal measures for sustainable water resource development and management. Read policy

Madhya Pradesh state water policy, 2003 

Madhya Pradesh state water policy (2003) has been prescribed in accordance to the guidelines and general directions in the National Water Policy, keeping in view the specific necessity for the State of Madhya Pradesh. 

 A few key points from the policy are -

  • The water resources development shall be planned on the basis of river basin or sub-basin. 
  • Each development project shall be designed in such a manner that each basin or sub-basin is inherently integrated water resources planning so that the best alternative can be identified.
  • The scope of water resource planning shall be multipurpose and it shall be essential to have the provision for drinking water and development of hydroelectricity.
  • A time bound upkeep of the dams and canal systems should be carried out and time-to-time programmes for their rehabilitation should be undertaken. It is an immediate need to reconstruct and rehabilitate the vast irrigation network of the state for future requirements.
  • While planning projects, attention should be given for development and conjunctive use of surface and ground water, and it should be made part of the project.
  • In the planning and operation of system water allocation priorities shall be as under 
    • Drinking water supply 
    • Irrigation and afforestation
    • Power generation/industrial and other uses and 
    • Tourism.
  • Water resources department shall be made a nodal department for permitting different uses of water resources. Clear provision for reservation of drinking water shall be made in proposed irrigation projects of the state, on river, reservoirs, tanks etc. Read policy

Maharashtra state water policy, 2003 

Government of Maharashtra has announced state water policy in July 2003, which ensures sustainable development, efficient management and optimal use of scarce water resources in a manner to maintain importance of ecological values within rivers and adjoining lands in order to provide economic and social benefits to the people.

The key issues dealt with in the Maharashtra State Water Policy are –

  • Adoption of an integrated and multi-sectoral approach to water resource planning, development and management on a sustainable basis taking river basins/sub-basin as a unit.
  • Based on the water resource development and management plan developed by the respective river basin agencies, the State shall prepare a state water resource plan to promote a balanced development.
  • This shall be done by proper coordination among diverse water uses which include structural measures, operational measures, watershed management measures, demand management measures such as conservation, scarcity scheduling and efficient technologies, water pollution control measures and monitoring measures.
  • These will assure comprehensive sustainable management of water resource and equality of water distribution for the benefit of the State and its peoples.
  • User’s participation in planning, development and management of water resources as well as farmers management of irrigation systems is also discussed in the policy. Read policy

Orissa state water policy, 2007 

Orissa state water policy (2007) supersedes the state water policy (1994) in the light of the fact that a number of developments have taken place and new information and knowledge have been generated and new issues and challenges have emerged in the field of development and management of water resources. It proclaims that water is a prime natural resource, a basic human need and a precious national asset.

The policy approved by the state water resources board aims at laying down the principles of equitable and judicious use of water for survival of life, welfare of human beings and sustained as well as balanced growth of the State. It makes the following points –

  • The hydrological unit should be the unit of development and management of water resources, starting from primary watersheds to sub-catchments and catchments, integrated into sub-basins and basins.
  • The state of Orissa adopts the following order of priority in water allocation in tune with the National Policy: (1) Drinking water and domestic use (human and animal consumption) (2) Ecology (3) Irrigation, Agriculture and other related activities including fisheries (4) Hydro Power (5) Industries including Agro Industries and (6) Navigation and other uses such as tourism.
  • The state water plan will not only allocate the water resource to different sectors of priority, it will also have a perspective plan for development of these resources in important areas like drinking water, irrigation, hydro-power etc. While developing these resources, people's need, preservation of the ecological balance and enrichment of the ecosystem would receive adequate attention. The plan will be holistic, participatory and environmentally sustainable.
  • The preparation of the state water plan and development of the water resources require an appropriate institutional and legal framework to support the activities. Read policy

Punjab state water policy- Draft 2008 

Punjab state water policy was first adopted in May 1997 on the lines of National Water Policy-1987 (NWP-1987) and was updated in 2002 as a number of issues and challenges had emerged during last two decades in the development and management of the water resources. Since Punjab has also been facing serious challenges in management of utilization of its water resources, it has reviewed and updated its existing water policy. 

The state water policy envisions that available water resources should be utilized efficiently and judiciously to meet drinking water needs and irrigation requirements in a manner that also promotes its conservation and engenders community participation. It seeks to make water everybody’s business and to catch rainwater where it falls or where it can be used optimally.  Besides, the harnessing of water for commercial, industrial and hydro-power generation, its usage must take place in a sustainable manner ensuring desired quality of water. The policy also seeks to ensure that water, which is an essential requirement for sustaining all forms of life, is given due importance as a part of a larger ecological system.

Within the overall vision, the State Water Policy-2008 as enunciated hereinafter aims to achieve the following objectives -

  • to ensure need based protected and safe drinking water supplies for humans and livestock;
  • to ensure a judicious and equitable distribution and efficient use of available water resources in a most sustainable and sound economic manner by different sectors i.e. Domestic/Drinking Water, Agriculture, Industry, Power etc;   
  • to develop all utilizable water resources to  the maximum possible extent, including surface water (both internal and  external), groundwater and waste water for equitable economic development and social well-being after properly identifying the suitable source of water and the quality of water required for different sectors;
  • to initiate corrective measures to control, regulate, manage, conserve and augment the declining over-exploited ground water resources for its development on long term basis with the involvement of all stake holders;
  • to treat the problems of rising water table/water logging and salinity/quality of water resources, which deserve special treatment with appropriate technology based on the local conditions, soil texture, structure and topography;
  • to promote and encourage participation of beneficiaries, Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), Municipal Bodies, NGOs and the private sector in all areas of water development, planning, operation and management; 
  • to ensure sharing of costs of public investments in irrigation, water supply, sanitation and environmental control works  at micro level with beneficiaries, Panchayati Raj Institutions, Municipal Bodies, NGOs and private organizations/agencies;
  • to initiate measures to mitigate water pollution and safeguard the environment and ecological balance; 
  • to promote the safe use and disposal of water  and optimize the reuse of water by re-cycling the treated industrial effluent and sewage waste (water) for irrigation, industry and other permissible uses;
  • to encourage investment in technology, research and development and promote efficient and cost effective uses of water to ensure maximum yield and return per unit of water;
  • to promote awareness about the need for conservation of water;  
  • to introduce systematic irrigation reforms for its improvement and efficient management so as to ensure proper functioning of existing structures, conveyance systems and other assets through adequate design, planning, maintenance and operation without any adverse ecological impact;
  • to encourage application of Improved Modern Irrigation Technologies, particularly sprinkler and drip irrigation instead of traditional irrigation technologies (furrow, border & flood irrigation which result in substantial water losses & limited uniformity in water distribution), on-farm management practices & proper technology transfer at various levels to increase water use efficiency & crop production;
  • to encourage and adopt integrated planning and water management practices for preventing and alleviating drainage problems and to provide flood protection and ensure minimal supplies during drought;
  • to make provisions for adequate relief and rehabilitation of persons displaced or adversely affected by irrigation projects; and   
  • to ensure need based training of personnel of State's Water Resources Administration to equip them with knowledge and information about most modern and scientific methods of development, management and conservation of water resources;
  • to improve and upgrade the existing hydrology infrastructure and develop a scientific hydrological information system for compilation, collation and analysis of all water related validated data to ensure proper planning and management of water resources.

The water allocation priorities in planning and operation of systems shall be as follows - Drinking water, Ecology, Irrigation, Hydro-power, Thermal power, Agro-Industry, Other Industries and other uses.

Except for drinking water, these priorities may be modified, if warranted for any area or region specific considerations keeping in view the ecology of that area or region after scientifically studying the requirements of water for various purposes i.e. drinking water, irrigation, power generation, industrial and other uses. Read draft policy

Rajasthan state water policy- Draft 2008 

Draft Rajasthan state water policy (2008) is a further revision of Rajasthan state water policy (1999), Draft  state water policy (2005) and the National water policy (2002). The most important new additions in the previous water policy are –

  • Paradigm shift of Government from controller of water resources to facilitator.
  • Provision of formation of Water Users Group and River Basin Organization.
  • A very strong emphasis upon the urgency of implementing effective water resources organization.
  • Implementation of IWRM, and the changes that this will entail at community level.
  • Implementation of reasonable limitations upon uncontrolled groundwater extraction.
  • Specifics involved in the establishment of Management Information Systems (MIS).
  • The provision of technical support for water management at community level.
  • Improved water sector communication, both horizontal and vertical.
  • Promotion of urban sewerage systems.
  • Introduction of an effective differential water tariff.
  • Involvement of NGOs and PRIs in water sector. Read draft policy

Rajasthan state water policy- Draft 2005

Rajasthan draft state water policy (2005) takes into account the requirement of utilising all available water resources, surface and ground, in a judicious and equitable, as well as sound economic manner.

The main sections of the policy are: The need for a state water policy, information system, maximising water availability, project planning, maintenance and modernisation, safety of structures, groundwater development, water allocation priorities, drinking water, irrigation water, water rates, participation of water users, water quality monitoring, water conservation and efficiency of utilisation, flood control and drainage management, drought management, training and education and legislation and regulation.

The state water policy would fulfill certain water resource development and management objectives related to the development of water resources to the maximum possible extent, through an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach towards irrigation and drainage projects, and sound allocation of water resources to different sectors, providing flood protection and drainage facilities.

The policy mentions of the actions to be taken for maximising water availability:

  • comprehensive and integrated water resource planning for the State on the basis of hydrological units i.e. basin or a sub-basin, assessment of water resources potentials, both surface and ground,
  • preparing basin-wise and state-level water resources development and environmental plans,
  • prioritising water resources development projects,
  • considering waste water reclamation in all basin plans,
  • encouraging efficient water application and utilisation practices,
  • formation of a Central Planning Authority for policy related issues for integrated water resources development and management,  
  • preparing projects for traditional water harvesting structures, artificial recharge of ground water, inter-basin transfer projects on a state-wide perspective and
  • pursuing the case for full utilisation of  the state's share in Ganga waters.

Water allocation priorities are to be drinking water, irrigation, power generation and industrial and other uses in that order. However, these priorities might be modified if necessary in particular regions with reference to area specific considerations. The policy specifies that the demands of drinking water, irrigation, power generation, industrial and other uses shall be studied scientifically for appropriate development and allocation of funds. Read policy

Also view responses to the draft water policy in a discussion on UN solution exchange

Rajasthan state water policy, 1999 

Rajasthan state water policy is governed by the state's perspectives on utilising all available water resources, surface and ground, in a judicious and equitable, as well as sound economic manner. The policy has been formulated with the following water resources development and management objectives:

  • Development of all utilizable water resources to the maximum possible extent, including surface water - local and imported - groundwater and waste water, for optimal economic development and social well-being.
  • Assuring an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach to planning, evaluation, approval and implementation of irrigation and drainage projects, including river basin management, of surface and ground water.
  • Optimisation of water resources exploitation and raising the level of reliability of supplies through conjunctive use of surface and ground water.
  • Judicious and economically sound allocation of water resources to different sectors, with drinking water supply as a first priority.
  • Optimum utilisation of water resources to maximise production in all user sectors.
  • Providing flood protection and drainage facilities, as well as assuring minimal supplies during drought periods.
  • Maintenance of water quality at acceptable standards and reduction of water resources' pollution by urban and industrial sewage.
  • Ensuring proper functioning of existing structures, conveyance systems and other assets through adequate maintenance and operation.
  • Minimising adverse impacts of water resources development on the natural environment and on population affected by project implementation works.
  • Promoting beneficiaries' participation in all aspects of water planning and management, with particular emphasis on Water User Associations intended to manage and maintain irrigation systems, both physically and financially.
  • Motivating and encouraging water conservation through appropriate and socially acceptable water rates, introduction of water-saving devices and practices in all sectors, and educational campaigns.
  • Advancing the technological and scientific level of all the staff in the water sector through intensification of applied research, technology transfer, training and education.
  • Ensuring well coordinated and efficient decision making, planning, design, execution and operation and maintenance activities among all GOR agencies.
  • Facilitating private initiative in development, operation and management of water projects.
  • Emphasis to be given for recharge of ground water aquifers to mitigate the crisis of drinking water supply and demand of drinking water supply and for industrial and other purposes.

In the planning and operation of systems, water allocation priorities shall be drinking water, irrigation, power generation and industrial and other uses in that order. However, these priorities might be modified if necessary in particular regions with reference to area specific considerations, and they may be different in the context of allocating water to existing consumers than in the context of planning the development of water resources for new consumers.

A detailed methodology for multi-priority analysis shall be developed for decision making in the Central Planning Authority to enable prioritisation in water resources planning and management. The demands of drinking water, irrigation, power generation, industrial and other uses shall be studied scientifically for appropriate development and allocation of funds.Read policy

Uttar Pradesh state water policy, 1999 

The policy deals with planning and development of water resources of the state governed by the development perceptions of the state. Water for drinking and domestic use has the highest priority while allocating the water resource of the state. The state has to provide adequate drinking water facilities (both for people and livestock) to the entire population in both urban and rural areas upto the year 2025. Sanitation facilities for entire population in urban areas and most of the rural areas should also be provided.

The broad objectives of the water policy for Uttar Pradesh shall be:

  • Ensure preservation of the scarce water resources and to optimise the utilization of the available resources.
  • Bring about qualitative improvement in water resource management which should include user's participation and decentralization of authority.
  • Maintain water quality, both surface and underground, to established norms and standards.
  • Promote formulation of projects as far as and whenever possible on the concept of basin or sub-basin, treating both surface and the ground water as a unitary resource, ensuring multipurpose use of the water resource. This would inter alia consist of the following main uses:
    • Provide adequate water for drinking and domestic use.
    • Providing water for irrigation.
    • Maximize hydro power generation within the constraints imposed by other users.
    • Provide water for industries including Agro industries.
    • Provide water for navigation, recreation, health and for other uses.
  • Ensure ecological and environmental balance while developing water resources.
  • Promote equity and social justice among individuals and groups of users in water resource allocation and management.
  • Ensure self-sustainability in water resource development.
  • Ensure Flood Management and drainage as integral part of water resource development.
  • Provide a substantive legal framework for management.
  • Provide a Management Information System (M.I.S.) for effective monitoring of policy implementation.
  • Promote research and training facilities in the water resource sector.
  • Provide mechanism for the resolution of conflicts between various users.

The success of the state water policy will depend entirely on the development and maintenance of general consensus and commitments to its underlying principles and objectives. Read policy



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