President Pranab Mukherjee has called for multi-disciplinary approach to water. Delivering the valedictory address at India Water Week -2016 in New Delhi today, Shri Mukherjee said that he saw “India Water Week” itself - as a key initiative for sharing best practices and exchanging ideas to identify timely solutions to the critical water issues confronting our world today. He said, we must prioritize resilient eco-systems, modern data management systems and innovations in technology. The President said our laws should inculcate a respect for the principle that water is a common legacy. We must treasure it, utilize it in a manner that enables us to pass it on - intact if not enhanced to our Generation Next, Shri Mukherjee added.
Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti in her address called for paradigm shift in water resource management. She said the key components are a move away from a narrowly engineering-construction-centric approach to a more multidisciplinary, participatory management perspective, with central emphasis on command area development and a sustained effort at improving water-use efficiency, which continues to languish at a very low level. Sushri Bharti said, at the same time the country will be fully alive to creation of major reservoir capacity where cost-effective environmentally sustainable, options, such as Pancheshwar, are available. The Minister said groundwater accounts for nearly two-thirds of India’s irrigation and 80% of domestic water needs.
She said the focus here will be on the adoption of a participatory approach to sustainable management of groundwater based on aquifer mapping that takes into account the ‘Common Property Right’ nature of groundwater. In the first phase the heavily overdrawn areas of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are proposed to be mapped under the programme. The Central Government has set apart up a sum of Rs 6000 crs over the next five years to revitalise the GW sector. The Minister said high quality professional human resources are proposed to be deployed to give a thrust to GW recharge in heavily overdrawn areas.The Minister said our cities have to explore new ways of dealing with excreta, which are affordable and sustainable. She said the principle has to be to cut the cost of building the sewage system, cut the length of the sewage network and then to treat the waste as a resource – turn sewage into water for irrigation or use in industry. Indian cities have to plan for reuse and recycling of waste at the very beginning of their water and waste plan and not as an after-thought. Sushri Bharti said the diverse options for reuse must be factored in – use in agriculture, for recharge of water bodies, for gardening and for industrial and domestic use. We are going to give a thrust to this activity under the Namami Gange Programme, the Minister added.
Sushri Bharti said the Government is gearing up to address the perceived impacts of climate change through appropriate adaptation measures involving all stakeholders. She said to meet the challenges of Water Resources management effectively, an integrated and digitised National Water Resources Information System will be crucial. The Minister said, “Accordingly, we are suitably strengthening, reorganising and equipping the existing Water Resource Information System (WARIS) in the Central Water Commission, under the World Bank assisted, Rs 3500 cr National Hydrology Project, in close collaboration with the National Remote Sensing Centre to provide the requisite decision and operational support”. She said simultaneously, to enable irrigation departments to effectively play their new role in irrigation management transfer, their human resource profile will be broadened to include disciplines such as social mobilisation, management, agronomy, etc. The Minister said, “Capacities of civil engineers will be reoriented to move them away from a narrow construction outlook towards management roles. For this, partnerships will be developed with national institutes of eminence to establish centres of excellence in irrigation management to undertake research, education and training for senior WR managers in performance management through planning, budgeting and monitoring systems”.
Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu in his address said that climate change has brought the water issue to the forefront. He said ever increasing population is putting a pressure on our water resources. Shri Prabhu called for holistic approach to tackle various issues connected with water. Underlining the need for speedy implementation of inter-linking of rivers the Minister said the problems of drought and flood will be solved to a great extent once the inter-linking programme is over. He called for better integration of tradition knowledge with modern techniques to effectively deal with the challenges of water resources management.The Agriculture Minister of Israel Mr. Uri Ariel in his message to the conclave said active participation of experts and practitioners from Israel, together with the national pavilion showcasing dozens of Israeli companies and their advanced technologies, presented a glimpse of what could be or what will be the nature of such a new, comprehensive, upgraded form of Indian-Israel water partnership. He said, “I would like to reiterate Israel’s commitment, to add another important ingredient to our ever-growing relationship, in which both our countries join hands here in Delhi and across India in the efforts for the well being of both peoples”.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Smt. Vasundhara Raje in her address said that Water Resources management could only be successful if sufficient resources were allocated and wholehearted participation on part of different wings of the government, civil society, businesses houses and citizens is ensured. She said this philosophy of water management is reflected in Rajasthan’s ‘Mukhyamantri Jal Swavlamban Abiyan’. Smt. Raje called for a campaign to make villages self reliant in water. She said there should be a National Task Force to draw up contours of a communication strategy that would advocate matching of cropping patterns to agro-climatic conditions. A national programmes should factor in investments that are essential and operational flexibility of schemes should be given to the states, the Chief Minister added.Union Minister of Rural Development, Drinking Water, Sanitation and Panchayati Raj Chaudhary Birender Singh said that primary source of drinking water in India has been ground water, traditionally, which is dwindling fast. He said the focus for our drinking water needs to be shifted towards optimum utilization of surface water. The Minister said agencies dealing with surface water and hydrology, generate a lot of precious data for mapping surface water assets of India.
However, due to different origins of these big data and varied methodology adopted to generate and process such data, the end products are not compatible. Shri Singh said, “The idea here is to develop a platform which is portable. This is possible only if the agencies dealing with ground water, surface water, land use and geomatic technologies function with synergy”.Earlier, Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Prof. Sanwar Lal Jat welcoming the guests said that more than 1600 delegates from 15 Country attended the five day event. He said, the conference encompassed all major topics related to water resources development and management and thus provided the right platform for the Water Resources fraternity for coming out with pragmatic strategies towards achieving the goal of ‘Water for All’ in line with Government of India’s vision, “Sab Ka Sath, Sab KaVikaas”. Shri Shashi Shekhar, Secretary delivered vote of thanks