NITI Aayog’s Composite Water Management Index Report Signals A Water Crisis

Author: Himanshu Ranjan

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Nearly half the Indian population are facing high to extreme water stress. In the water quality index released by the World Water Development Report of United Nations – India fares poorly being placed among the bottom three. The NITI Aayog report also points out the fact that about 70 % of water is contaminated in India and unsafe for drinking purpose.  Consumption of contaminated water kills about 2 lakh people in India. Water being a state subject, this problem needs urgent and innovative interventions by the state governments in India.

Ministry of Water Resources in another report points out the fact that by the year 2030 the nation’s water supply is projected to be double of what is currently available and by 2050 water demand is to become unsustainable.

The top Performing States: NITI Aayog has presented its own Composite Water Management Index in which the following states fare better: They are- Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.

The Worst Performing States: States of Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand Haryana, and Jharkhand along with North Eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, and Meghalaya are among the worst performers in the same index.

However, the bright point is that nearly 60 % of the states improved their scores while the average improvement measured showed a gain of 1.8 points.

The worst performing states should urgently look upon the below nine indicators on which the ranking has been done. They are with their assigned weights in the index as below:

i. Source augmentation and restoration of water bodies: Weights – 5
ii. Source augmentation (Groundwater): Weights – 15
iii. Major and medium irrigation—Supply-side management: Weights – 15
iv. Watershed development—Supply-side management: Weights – 10
v. Participatory irrigation practices—Demand side management: Weights – 10
vi. Sustainable on-farm water use practices—Demand side management: Weights – 10
vii. Rural drinking water: Weights – 10
viii. Urban water supply and sanitation: Weights – 10
ix. Policy and governance: Weights – 15

The critical areas of concern, as mentioned in the report, are namely- Source augmentation (Groundwater), Rural drinking water, and Sustainable on-farm water use practices.

It is also worthy to note that data for the states of West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, and the Union Territories are not available. If their data is also included a more holistic picture can be drawn out. Some of the worst performing states such as Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Assam, and Haryana don’t have a separate integrated Data Centre for water resources.

The report also describes certain case studies such as Gujarat’s Community Managed Water Supply Programme, Andhra Pradesh’s online water dashboard, or Odisha’s Pani Panchayats among others that can help other states to take corrective action in this regard.

Therefore, it’s high time for the worst performing states to work on the critical indicators as pointed out in the NITI Aayog’s report, to enable data collection as well as implement successful case studies to solve the impending water crisis.

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