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State shows how to manage water resources, earns NITI Aayog pat

Rajasthan has improved its ranking in the NITI Aayog’s composite water management index

jaipur Updated: Jun 17, 2018 22:36 IST
Sachin Saini
Sachin Saini
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Rajasthan News
The Niti Aayog report says only 44 per cent of Rajathan’s rural habitations are ’fully covered’ by drinking water supply.(File/PTI)

By restoring 80 per cent of the irrigation potential of identified water bodies, largely through community-managed ponds and tanks, Rajasthan has improved its ranking in the federal think tank NITI Aayog’s composite water management index (CWMI).

Released on June 14, the report highlights how India is suffering from ‘the worst ever water crisis’ with nearly half of country’s population facing high to extreme water stress and about two lakh people dying every year due to inadequate access to safe water.

In that backdrop, Rajasthan has done some good work in restoration of surface water bodies and rural water supply provision in 2016-17, improving its ranking by three places.

The feat was achieved because of transformational state water policies such as Rajasthan’s Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlambhan Abhiyan (MJSA) and effective irrigation management —integrated irrigation solutions.

CWMI comprises nine areas of assessment with 28 different indicators covering various aspects of groundwater, restoration of water bodies, irrigation, farm practices, drinking water, policy and governance.

Of the 17 non-Himalayan states, Rajasthan in base year (financial year 2015-16) was ranked 13th, in 2016-17 it reached the 10th position.

MJSA is a multi-stakeholder project, which aims to make the remotest of the villages in the state water-sufficient, by focusing on reviving water bodies, increasing groundwater levels, and providing clean drinking water. Under Rajasthan’s integrated irrigation solutions, the state government has implemented a comprehensive package of solutions in Sanchore along the Narmada River and as a part of this micro-irrigation technology has been made mandatory for farmers. ‘The report states that about 60% (15 out of 24) of the states included in the index have improved their scores in 2016-17. The improvement is because of work done in restoration of surface water bodies, watershed development activities, and rural water supply provision. Rajasthan (among the non-Himalayan states) and Meghalaya, Tripura, and Sikkim (among the North-Eastern and Himalayan states) have improved the most.

Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have benefited the most from community galvanization, led by local officers and NGOs, for the restoration of traditional water bodies such as farm ponds and tanks. In terms of absolute achievement, Rajasthan improved the most between the years, managing to geo-tag a staggering 55,000 assets in a single year. “In terms of incremental change in the index (over 2015-16 level), Rajasthan holds number one position in general states,” reads the report.

The state has improved scores across the indicator themes, including the provision of a greater role to Water User Associations (WUAs) in irrigation, and the restoration of surface water bodies. Building on this momentum, Rajasthan has received a $100 million loan from the New Development Bank (NDB) in 2018 to improve the Indira Gandhi Canal system.

Rajasthan has also improved scores across the indicator themes of participatory irrigation and source restoration.

In waste water treatment - in line with installed capacity, treatment percentages vary from 25-95% for the larger states. Haryana is the leader and treats 95% of its waste water. Rajasthan, in the second position and treats 71% of its urban waste water, up from 42% in the base year (FY 15-16).

Commenting on the report, chairman, Rajasthan River Basin and Water Resources Planning Authority, Sriram Vedire said, in next two-three years, Rajasthan will become number one not just in incremental growth but otherwise also. “Under MJSY our focus is on reviving water bodies, increasing ground water and providing clean drinking water. This scheme is driving force in improving our stand by nine points, highest in the country under instrumental change,” he said.

Vedire said the Niti Aayog has mentioned how state used technology such as drone and geo-tagging in identifying water bodies.

The Niti Aayog report, however, also pointed out how only 44 per cent of Rajasthan’s rural habitations are “fully covered” by drinking water supply.

The report said there has been no improvement in water quality, in terms of contamination by arsenic and fluoride, in 2016-17 compared to the previous financial year.

“Despite the challenges in the water-scarce state, the state government is working on various public welfare water projects. We will be spending close to Rs 20,000 crore on projects to make surface water available to the people in rural and urban areas,” PTI quoted state public health engineering and groundwater minister Surendra Goyal as saying.

The minister said 90 per cent of the country’s brackish water and 50 per cent of its fluoridated water is found in Rajasthan, so providing safe water was a time-consuming challenge.

BOX

Things Going Well:

Surface water restoration: the state has restored 80% of the irrigation potential of identified water bodies, largely through community-managed ponds and tanks

Participatory irrigation: 75% of irrigated area is maintained by WUAs, which retain 95% of fees

Policy and data: the state has enacted conservation legislation, charges 73% of urban households for water, and has setup an integrated data center.

Things to improve:

Irrigation utilization and O&M: the state has assessed only 14% of its 107MMI projects for utilization gaps and has the lowest O&M expenditure in India

Rural drinking water: at 44% access rate of rural habitations are one of the lowest in the country, and there has been no improvement in water quality

First Published: Jun 17, 2018 22:26 IST