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National Water Policy to be Finalised Tomorrow, Activists Raise Concern

New Delhi, October 29: National Water Resources Council, headed by Prime Minister, Shri Manmohan Singh is to meet tomorrow, October 30, 2012 to consider the latest draft of the National Water Policy, and finalise the same. Activists and experts water has been extremely critical of the process and provisions in the policy. Since January 2012 when the first draft was unveiled a number of representation to the Ministry of Water Resources. Today a group of water activists led by EAS Sarma, former secretary, Govt of India, has written again to PM urging the NWRC to pay attention to key issues concerning the right to water in India. Activists allege that the process of formulating a NWP is not credible since a matter of this importance should involve every gram sabha in villages, every ward in cities and all concerned civil society groups. India is a signatory to the UN General Assembly resolution number 64/292 of 28th July 2010 “Human right to water and sanitation”, approved by 120 countries but any reference to this has been removed from the document after it appeared in the first draft made public in January 2012. The draft policy had faced severe criticism from various quarters for its advocacy of privatisation of water services, urging the Council, activists said that the global trend is for re-municipalisation,  including in France (e.g. Paris), US (e.g. Atlanta), Italy, Uruguay, Netherlands, among others and India should not push for privatisation of water services. Water Privatisation projects have been facing the ire of the people’s movements at various places.

They further added that, “in light of the reports from Comptroller Auditor and General and Planning Commission of India that over the last two decades, there has been no addition to the net area irrigated by major and medium irrigation projects, the government should shun failed big irrigation projects, stop sanctioning any new projects and rather ensure optimal utilisation of existing irrigation infrastructure, make sustenance of groundwater lifeline central focus of water resources development and review all existing projects.

In light of the just concluded COP11 Convention on Bio Diversity in Hyderabad during Oct 8-19. 2012, activists demanded that, “there is a need to protect riverine bio-diversity and linked livelihoods and for that a law to protect rivers should be the priority and NWP could pave the way for it. Criticizing the failed Maharashtra Water Regulatory Authority, they demanded to completely remove any proposal for establishing state water regulatory authorities as mandated in sec 7.2 of the NWP.

The statement issued by activists was endorsed by 15 others and coordinated by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and people.

National Water Policy was first formulated in 1987 which was subsequently reviewed and a revised National Water Policy was adopted by the National Water Resources Council in the year 2002. In pursuance of the strategies identified in National Water Mission Document as well as deliberations in National Water Board, Ministry of Water Resources has initiated the process of review of National Water Policy, 2002.

Read related blog posts:
India’s National Water Policy: The Coal Spot within
Proposed Revisions in National Water Policy Call for Privatisation of Water
Draft of a National Water Framework Law Put in Public Domain by Planning Commission of India