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03 JUNE, 2017 (MAINS)



Q1.  The Centre had recently come out with a draft National Water Framework Bill, 2016. How much shall this Bill assist in providing a mechanism to develop and manage river basins in an integrated and systematic way? (200 words)


Please write the answer in comments section

  • Ashish

    Though water is a state subject, yet the increasing water crisis, judicial recognition to right to water, urgent need to conserve water, inter-state water conflicts, pollution and long term ecological / social implications on account of usage of water demand that there should be an overarching national framework law over water. However, any such law can NOT be imposed on states. Such law can be adopted by the states voluntarily.

    The salient features of the draft law are as follows:
    • Right to Water for Life
    The bill puts legal backing behind the implied fundamental right to water. It says that every person would be entitled to “water for life” that shall not be denied on anyone on ground of inability to “pay”.

    • Graded pricing system for water
    The bill proposes a “graded pricing system” for domestic water supply. Grading is based on income level of the household. Commoditisation of water is one of the salient features of this bill.
    • Comprehensive Governance structure
    The bill proposes to put in place a comprehensive governance structure on water, dealing with its conservation and preservation, regulation of use, pollution prevention and abatement, pricing, administration, and river and aquifer management. The bill notes that state “at all levels” would hold water “in public trust” for the people, and “water for life” would take precedence over all other uses, including agricultural, industrial and commercial.

    • Binding” national water quality standards
    The bill proposes to introduce binding national water quality standards for every kind of use.
    • Reduction in water foot print
    The bill also proposes to introduce national water footprint standards for every activity and product. Further, state will be asking to industries to reduce their water footprint; along with an action plan to progressively reduce it over time.
    • Rejuvenation of River system
    The bill asks the governments to strive for rejuvenation of river systems by ensuring Aviral Dhara {continuous flow} and Nirmal Dhara {unpolluted flow} and Swachh Kinara {clean river banks}. The bill proposed “Basin Level” development of rivers proposes an integrated river basin development and management plan in each of the basins. The bill says that river basins will be managed in such a way that it ensures the scientific planning of land, water resources, taking basin/sub-basin as a unit.
    • River Basin Authority
    For the optimum and sustainable development of inter-state rivers and river valleys, the Central Government will provide for establishment of a River Basin Authority for each Inter-state river basin. Each River Basin authority will prepare a master plan for river basin under its jurisdiction and this master plan will be reviewed and updated every five years after consultations with planning agencies and stakeholders.
    • Flood Mitigation and Management
    As per the bill, the Central Government would develop a Decision Support System (DSS) for flood forecasting and flood inundation under the National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC). Every State Government shall also develop their own DSS to address state-specific issues. The NWIC shall ensure that the central DSS and that of each State is provided adequate and effective linkage.

  • Osho Korde

    • A river basin, including associated aquifers, will be considered as the basic hydrological unit for planning, development and management of water.
    • It will ensure that over-extraction of groundwater in the immediate vicinity of a river.
    • It prevents the serious negative impacts of the fall in water tables and water quality, as also the drying up of rivers, on drinking water and livelihood security.
    • Each Basin State will make best efforts to integrate appropriately the management of waters with the management of all natural, agricultural, and human resources of a river basin therewith taking into account the social, economic and institutional factors operating in a river basin.
    • Equitable and optimal utilisation of waters within a river basin will be ensured.
    • The River Basin Master Plan, at all stages, will remain in the public domain, and will be available online.
    • The River Basin Master Plan will take due account of and be coordinated with plans for national economic and social development, the general plans for land use, rural and urban development, plans for river and aquifer rejuvenation and environmental protection and plans for treatment and use of treated waste water; and will give due emphasis to regional agro-climatic considerations, while taking into account possible future scenarios (including climate change)

    Water being a State subject, the Bill, however, will not be binding on States for adoption.