National Policy to Save Water

Government of India has formulated the National Water Policy, 2012 wherein several recommendations have been made for conservation, development and management of water resources in the country. The Salient Features of the National Water Policy, 2012 are Annexed.

Ministry of Agriculture has informed that in order to address the adverse impact involving economic and ecological situations out of intensive cereal based cropping system, declining factor productivity, increased cost of cultivation and depleting ground water resources and nutrient status and higher incidence of disease pests, to move away from rice-wheat system to a sustainable one, a scheme of Crop Diversification has been announced by the Finance Minister in his Budget speech 2013-14 for implementation in original green revolution areas i.e., Western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab with an outlay of Rs. 500 Crore.

The long term objectives to achieve under crop diversification programme were as follows:

  • Reduction of area of high water requiring crops at least by 7% during 2013-14.
  • Establishment of alternate crops through adoption of adequate technological innovations for a sustainable agricultural system.
  • Resource Conservation like restoration of ground water table, removal of soil fatigue and increasing factor productivity and reduction in pollution levels.

The notified over-exploited and critical blocks based on recommendation of Central Ground Water Board of major paddy growing districts of each State have been identified for implementation of Crop Diversification programme.

Several steps for augmentation, conservation and efficient management to ensure sustainability of water resources are undertaken by the respective State Governments. In order to supplement the efforts of the State Governments, Government of India provides technical and financial assistance to State Governments through various schemes and programmes viz. Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP); Command Area Development and Water Management (CAD & WM); Repair Renovation and Restoration of Water Bodies etc.

As a result of sustained efforts, the live water storage capacity of about 253 billion cubic meter (BCM) has been created in the country so far.

The Government has also launched a National Water Mission with the objective of ˜conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources development and management™.  One of the goals of National Water Mission is ˜increasing water use efficiency by 20%™.

This information was given by Union Water Resources Minister Shri Harish Rawat  in the Rajya  Sabha today in reply to a written question.



  1. Emphasis on the need for a national water framework law, comprehensive legislation for optimum development of inter-State rivers and river valleys.
  2. Water, after meeting the pre-emptive needs for safe drinking water and sanitation, achieving food security, supporting poor people dependent on agriculture for their livelihood and high priority allocation for minimum eco-system needs, be treated as economic good so as to promote its conservation and efficient use.
  3. Ecological needs of the river should be determined recognizing that river flows are characterized by low or no flows, small floods (freshets), large floods and flow variability and should accommodate development needs. A portion of river flows should be kept aside to meet ecological needs ensuring that the proportional low and high flow releases correspond in time closely to the natural flow regime.
  4. Adaptation strategies in view of climate change for designing and management of water resources structures and review of acceptability criteria has been emphasized.
  5. A system to evolve benchmarks for water uses for different purposes, i.e., water footprints, and water auditing be developed to ensure efficient use of water. Project financing has been suggested as a tool to incentivize efficient & economic use of water.
  6. Setting up of Water Regulatory Authority has been recommended. Incentivization of recycle and re-use has been recommended.
  7. Water Users Associations should be given statutory powers to collect and retain a portion of water charges, manage the volumetric quantum of water allotted to them and maintain the distribution system in their jurisdiction.
  8. Removal of large disparity in stipulations for water supply in urban areas and in rural areas has been recommended.
  9. Water resources projects and services should be managed with community participation. Wherever the State Governments or local governing bodies so decide, the private sector can be encouraged to become a service provider in public private partnership model to meet agreed terms of service delivery, including penalties for failure.
  10. Adequate grants to the States to update technology, design practices, planning and management practices, preparation of annual water balances and accounts for the site and basin, preparation of hydrologic balances for water systems, and benchmarking and performance evaluation.
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