Water management through communities in Uttarakhand - Neelima Garg

Since the beginning of human history, there have been wars over water issues. It is being said that there could be war over water in future.

The conflict is over how water is perceived, valued and treated. Water is life savior elixir. The importance of water as a vital resource to the life system and an essential component of societal development cannot be over emphasized. Over the years, many ancient civilizations emphasized on various mechanisms of water collection & distribution.

The eighth five year plan of the Govt. of India outlined a key principle for this sector-water being managed as a commodity and not a free service. The National Water Policy of 2002 favors widespread private sector participation in the country’s water management. Wherever feasible, public-private partnerships should be encouraged in such a manner that we can attract private investment in the development and management of water resources.

Water services in Uttarakhand is being transformed through a major process of reform i.e. sector wide approach in rural water supply sector. This involves the implementation of community driven model in the water and sanitation sector in rural water supply schemes with the help of World Bank. In this programme, the ownership of water supply is transferred to the communities after the capacity building of gram panchayats to prepare them to handle the Water Supply Scheme successfully. Success in water management through water user association is because of development of ownership feeling with precious water assets and water structures in their own area. This project aims to support the state's sector reform process by establishing and enhancing its institutional capacity to implement, manage, and sustain the state's sector development program in water management. This project stresses the need of sustainability of water supply schemes through catchments area protection works and also contributes towards total sanitation.

Water management through users groups is attaining a global phenomenon. In India, 73rd constitution amendment empowers state government to endow the PRI’s with powers and responsibilities for natural resource management through PRI’s. The sector programme has addressed this issue successfully.

Moving ahead with SWAp principles has been a constant learning experience.

Neelima Garg ( Executive Engineer –Uttarakhand jal sansthan )

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