Eshwer Kale

Maharashtra has been implementing the Gaalmukt Dharan, Gaalyukt Shivar Yojana (GDGS) scheme since 2017. How has it fared and what needs to be done to improve it further?

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There is need to evolve a National Water Policy that establishes a framework and pathway to sustainable, efficient and equitable management of surface and groundwater resources.

The Department of Water Resources, under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, has constituted a drafting committee on 5 November 2019 to revise the existing National Water Policy (NWP). Dr. Mihir Shah, a renowned water expert and a former member of the Planning Commission is chairing the committee. The committee has 10 principal members and it is expected that the committee produces a report within six months of its formation.

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Unregulated construction and use of farm ponds in Maharashtra have further aggravated the drinking water situation in water-scarce areas in the state.

In the last few years, the water situation in Maharashtra has got worse resulting in severe droughts leading to drinking water scarcity and agricultural crisis. This has caused immense suffering for the rural folk in the state and saw instances of violence in the name of water. The government was forced to enforce Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code to facilitate smooth distribution of water among the population.

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Now-a-days, climate change or global warming is one of the growing concerns in the natural resource management. According to the United Nation 2008 report ‘Humanitarian implications of climate change - Mapping emerging trends and risk hotspots’, India is one of the largest and most important regions of high overall human vulnerability. Climate change phenomenon is closely related to changes in monsoon behaviour and temperature. Variability in rainfall and temperature has a definite impact on water availability, groundwater recharge, agriculture and livestock production, livelihoods and health. Eshwar Kale of WoTR, Pune writes about the issue.

Climate change issue is being loudly debated on international level to reduce emission of various gases, and each nation’s responsibility to control the emission. Although, the proposed National Water Policy 2012 in India proposes few debatable recommendations on prioritising water-use, water-pricng, and equity issues, in response to addressing climate change implications, it came with many useful recommendations and suggestions to build and increase the adaptive capacities of communities to climate change.

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Right to water is closely linked to ownership of land in India and the person who owns the piece of land has have a full ownership right to use as well as exploit groundwater under his piece of land, as well as from neighbouring land. Due to this unfair rule, landless and resource poor are thrown out from various benefits of the groundwater which are generated through watershed development and water conservation projects.

 

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