National Water Policy

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National Water Policy is formulated by the Ministry of Water Resources of the Government of India to govern the planning and development of water resources and their optimum utilization. The first National Water Policy was adopted in September, 1987.[1] It was reviewed and updated in 2002 and later in 2012.

India accounts for 15% of the world population and about 4% of the world’s water resources. One of the solutions to solve the country’s water woes is to link the rivers.[2]

India has been successful in creating live water storage capacity of about 253 billion cubic meter(BCM) so far. In a first, the ecological needs of river have also been taken into consideration.

Salient features[edit]

The major provisions under the policy are:

  1. Envisages to establish a standardized national information system with a network of data banks and data bases
  2. Resource planning and recycling for providing maximum availability
  3. To give importance to the impact of projects on human settlements and environment.
  4. Guidelines for the safety of storage dams and other water-related structures
  5. Regulate exploitation of groundwater
  6. Setting water allocation priorities in the following order: Drinking water, Irrigation, Hydropower, Navigation, Industrial and other uses.
  7. The water rates for surface water and ground water should be rationalized with due regard to the interests of small and marginal farmers.

The policy also deals with participation of farmers and voluntary agencies, water quality, water zoning, conservation of water, flood and drought management, erosion etc.[3]

National Water Policy 2012[edit]

The main emphasis of National Water Policy 2012 is to treat water as economic good which the ministry claims to promote its conservation and efficient use.[4] This provision intended for the privatization of water-delivery services is being criticized from various quarters.[5] The policy also does away with the priorities for water allocation mentioned in 1987 and 2002 versions of the policy. The policy was adopted with a disapproval from many states.

The other major features are:-

  • To ensure access to a minimum quantity of potable water for essential health and hygiene to all citizens, available within easy reach of the household.
  • To curtail subsidy to agricultural electricity users.
  • Setting up of Water Regulatory Authority.
  • To keep aside a portion of the river flow to meet the ecological needs and to ensure that the low and high flow releases correspond in time closely to the natural flow regime.
  • To give statutory powers to Water Users Associations to maintain the distribution system.
  • Project benefited families to bear part of the cost of resettlement & rehabilitation of project affected families.
  • To remove the large disparity between stipulations for water supply in urban areas and in rural areas.
  • To support a National Water Framework Law.


  • Paradigm shift in approach from service provider of water to facilitator of service.
  • Policy does not deter use among those who can afford to pay for water.
  • PPP mode may not ensure equity.
  • Policy does not follow polluter pay principle, rather it gives incentives for effluent treatment.
  • Policy was criticized for terming Water as an economic good.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "National Water Policy 2002" (PDF). Ministry of Water Resources (GOI). 1 April 2002. p. 2. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "National Water Policy 1987" (PDF). Ministry of Water Resources (GOI). p. 11. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Draft National Water Policy (2012) as recommended by National Water Board" (PDF). Ministry of Water Resources. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Parsai, Gargi (January 21, 2012). "Water Policy draft favours privatisation of services". The Hindu. Retrieved 15 August 2012.