Dr Nimisha / Chandigarh
In an attempt to preserve the scarce water resources of the state and prevent misuse, Haryana Government has belatedly formulated its draft State Water Policy.
The officials said that implementation of the policy would pave the way for long-term sustainability of water sector and better management.
Haryana does not have a source of surface water and has to depend upon inter-state allocation of water. Under the policy, special focus has been laid on equitable and judicious allocation of water, with emphasis on poor and disadvantaged people and conservation of precious water resources and its optimum utilization. The policy would also become operational action plan for the implementation of National Water Policy of 2002 for the state.
The new policy envisages creation of a Groundwater Authority for effective groundwater management with the association of all the stakeholders. Priority would be given to the monitoring of quality of groundwater. Exploitation of ground water resources would be so regulated as not to exceed the recharging possibilities, as also to ensure social equity, he added.
It is aimed at planning for water resources development on the concept of basin or sub-basin as a unit, treating surface and ground waters as unitary resource to meet the demands of various sectors and integrated planning of water resources sector with components, such as drainage, flood management, water conservation techniques, such as rainwater harvesting, artificial recharge and bio-drainage Top priorities, under the Policy, had been laid on drinking water, irrigation, power generation, environmental allocation, agro-industries, non-agricultural industries and other uses.
In the policy, priority would be to reduce the imbalance, optimize use, conservation and proper utilization of the resource. The development projects would be planned with a holistic approach at the basin or sub-basin level. The project plan would have integrated in itself all the aspects of the project area, such as- environmental sustainability, drinking water supply, social concerns, groundwater management, drainage development, flood protection or mitigation, drought management, other users.
watershed development and management would be enlarged through measures like soil conservation, catchment area treatment, preservation of forests, increasing the forest cover and check dams. A Central institutional arrangement would be set up for effective monitoring and improvements in this programme. Incentives for use of water-saving devices, such as sprinkler irrigation and drip irrigation would be provided in the structure of rates.
In addition, conservation of water would be promoted through actions, such as promotion of less water consuming crops and diversification of cropping pattern, conjunctive use of water, artificial recharge of groundwater, rainwater harvesting, small storage dams in lower Shivalik areas to store rainwater during rainy season. A number of departments of the state were involved in water conservation measures. In order to have better coordination for improvement, adjustment and monitoring of this activity, one department would be designated, which will work as nodal agency for monitoring and evaluation of this vital sector.
Quality of surface and ground water and health of water bodies would also be maintained in the new policy to allow growth of plants and wild life, besides creating and maintaining new water bodies.
The new policy would also focus on the vulnerability to drought and take appropriate steps. These include soil-moisture conservation, rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge. In drought years, the surface water as well as groundwater availability was bound to reduce. But in such years, limited over-exploitation of groundwater would be allowed, as it would be compensated in good years when groundwater recharge would be higher. Conjunctive use of surface and ground waters would enable reduction of water deficits in drought years. Long-term plan would be formulated to tackle the problems of water logging and salinity by proper drainage techniques and research. Conjunctive use of saline and fresh water would be promoted.
In order to make the water sector self-sustainable, water rates would be reviewed frequently to make the charges adequate to cover the cost of operation and maintenance of the system. The water rates would be such as to convey the scarcity of the resource and optimal use.