A Participatory Approach for Democratization of Water Resource and Sustainable Water Management

sustainable water management
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As water crisis is becoming one of the major environmental concerns across geographies, initiatives towards achieving sustainable water resource management are imperative for India. FICCI recently organised the 2nd edition of India Industry Water Conclave, a platform for policy debate and showcasing initiatives by industry in sustainable water management.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the conclave, Shashi Shekhar, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India highlighted some insightful observations for a paradigm shift in sustainable water management.

  • There is a need to take into account the complete ecosystem and have a holistic approach

. There is no evaluation of the sum total of command area of aquifers vis-à-vis the sum total of command area of reservoirs

  • We need efficiency in canal irrigation. Canals should be converted to pipes for delivery of water. This will release land for other purposes.
  • A participatory approach to water management should be the first condition of reform
  • Focus on pressure irrigation
  • Find ways of ensuring groundwater flow into aquifers through rainwater harvesting and protecting the natural recharge systems.
  • Focus on water budgeting and accounting
  • Demand side management needs to be given a priority to match the supply side push
  • Change in cropping pattern On the role of industry, Shri Shashi Shekhar mentioned five areas:
  • Water use efficiency in industry needs to be stepped up · Movement towards zero liquid discharge and air cooling systems
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Water budgeting and accounting in 555 villages is needed where private sector could help in promoting demand side management
  • Use of treated sewage water for industrial purposes through public-private partnership and a mechanism for sustainability

Mihir Shah, Chair of the Jury for FICCI Water Awards 2016, Former Member of the Planning Commission, and President, Bharat Rural Livelihood Foundation delivered the Special Address and spoke of the basic tenets of a paradigm shift in sustainable water management and the reform agenda of the government. The paradigm shift for sustainable water management needs to factor in

(1) Democratization of water management: states handing over the management of water of command areas to associations of farmers is a powerful method towards democratization; states need to be given an incentive towards reforms in this direction

(2) The need to provide last mile connectivity to the farm level to close the gap between irrigation potential created and irrigation potential utilized. Reforming irrigation would help to release water for other uses

(3) The need to use technologies for recycling and reuse, such technologies will have shorter payback periods

(4) The need for a national movement around revival of our rivers

(5) The need to understand the interconnection between economic development and the larger ecosystem, and

(6) The need for continuation of the National Aquifer Management Programme.

He also said the government is undertaking reforms in two major directions: (1) Merger of two bodies – the Central Water Commission and the Central Ground Water Board – into the National Water Commission. The Commission will take an ecosystem approach and function at a river basin level, and (2) Two major framework bills in the making – the National Framework Bill for Water and the Model Bill for Groundwater – that will address the fundamental right to water for life.

sustainable water management

Naina Lal Kidwai, Chairman of FICCI Water Mission, Past President, FICCI and Chairman, Max Financial Services, in her address, emphasized on the need for a holistic approach and driving change in a different way. She suggested that there is a need to have at least a minimum provision of water to industry to be able to even recycle and reuse it; usage of irrigation water more efficiently; and freeing up good quality water for drinking purposes. She said there is a need to shift the focus to a scenario where there is shared vision and responsibilities for water augmentation, greater accountability, an incentive framework for going beyond compliance, and a coordinated approach to water supply and management.

A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI in his address stated that there is a need to ensure that areas of public private partnerships in water are executed as sustainable business models and in a time bound manner. He further added that government should propose a framework for recognizing water as a shared resource and for promoting integrated water resource management.

On the same day, FICCI  also organised the 4th FICCI Water Awards to recognize exemplary work in the area of water management, conservation and use by industry and non-government organizations.

FICCI released the Compendium of Best Practices that documents the best practices of the industries and NGOs that were awarded in the FICCI Water Awards 2016. The details of the awards are given below

ITC Limited, Saharanpur, won the first prize in the ‘Industrial Water Use Efficiency’ category for their work in the domain of re-use of treated wastewater for reducing water consumption, Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) based effluent network system, rainwater harvesting, and practicing Zero waste water discharge.

TATA Motors Ltd, won the 1st runner-up prize in the same category, for their work in effluent treatment systems and for creating ZLD action plan and water mass balance based on maximum utilization of treated effluent to meet their green cover demand.

The 2nd position in the same category is bagged by the ITC Ltd. Jalahobli for their case study on wastewater treatment. The industry is making investments to reduce specific energy and water consumption to enhance the green footprint of its operations while generating substantial cost savings.

In the second category on ‘Community Initiatives by Industries’, ITC Ltd (Social Investment Team) received the first prize, for their enriching work in the integrated watershed development area. They project catered to issues like, water conservation and soil enrichment; village-based management of water and other natural resources; and optimising the usage of water resources created by the watershed development projects to build a more vibrant farm portfolio.

In the Category ‘Initiatives by NGOs’, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) won the prize, for their millennium women, water and work campaign, that has led to decentralized local water management in the dry and drought prone areas that has resulted in to employment and income opportunities to rural communities in Dungarpur, Rajasthan.

Along with participatory approach of the Government, citizens and the industrial houses, India needs to find out innovative ways to attain sustainable water management practices.