15:36 IST

November 16, 2006

The 12th National Symposium on Hydrology with focal theme “Groundwater Governance: Ownership of Groundwater and its Pricing” was organized here jointly by Central Ground Water Board and National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee under aegis of the Indian National Committee on Hydrology on 14th and 15th November, 2006. The two-day Symposium was inaugurated by Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission on 14th November’06, Prof. Saifuddin Soz, the Union Minister of Water Resources, presided over the inaugural session and Shri Jai Prakash Narain Yadav, Minister of State for Water Resources was the Guest of the Honour.

Shri Jai Prakash Narain Yadav Minister of State for Water Resources was the Chief Guest at the valedictory function on 15th November, 2006. Leading water experts, scientists and NGOs besides senior officials of the Ministry of Water Resources and its subordinate departments participated in the Symposium.

The Symposium gave the following Recommendations:

1. There is a need for proper assessment of groundwater resources at the macro and micro level, for each state, delineation of the potential aquifer systems, adopting newer technology and integrated groundwater information system needs to be put into place.

2. Upconing of saline water occurs in the fresh water areas underlain by saline ground water due to indiscriminate pumping without scientific consideration. Management models are required to determine optimum pumping rates in space and time to minimize saline water upconing.

3. High groundwater consuming industries should be preferably located in areas with high potential of ground water.

4. A paradigm shift in the role of government from provider and financier to facilitator especially for rain water harvesting and artificial recharge of groundwater involving participation of stakeholders.

5. There is need for establishing a National/State Centre/Centres of Excellence in Ground Water Sector including Groundwater Modeling for carrying out comprehensive ground water management.

6. Efficient water management techniques using water saving devices like sprinkler, drip irrigation system, etc. should be encouraged comprehensively.

7. The National Water Policy needs suitable modification and redrafting including evolving an appropriate Policy for ground water governance for each State, strategies could be suitable to location specific, considering resource, enhancement and socio-economic set up.

8. The governance and ownership and property right issues in ground water sector have not been properly resolved, and this is causing anomalies in water management. The regulation and management of ground water has to reflect equity and protection of weaker sections issues as also to quality and environmental concern.

9. It is to revamp all water related laws, including the Essential Act, into an integrated system of water laws.

10. Planning of ground water resource be based on hydrological boundaries rather than administrative boundaries and States sharing common aquifers should develop a regional approach to water ownership so as to ensure equity.

11. For Ground Water Legislation to be more effective, stakeholders should be made conscious of their role in utilization and protection of the resources. Hence, there is an imperative and urgent need of educating and creating awareness among users for economical and optimal use of ground water resources.

12. Groundwater development requires immediate action to strengthen the groundwater institutions in all states for better governance of groundwater resources, implementation of artificial recharge projects, managing saline aquifers etc.

13. Research and development activity in groundwater sector should be undertaken with more integrated, multi-disciplinary and sustainable approach to groundwater governance including utilization of saline ground water.

14. For proper implementation of legislative measures, an authentic data base is a pre-requisite. Information gathering and resource planning based on systematic scientific research, initiating demand and supply side management within a standardized and integrated framework may be geared up for management of groundwater data infrastructure.

15. The ownership of groundwater needs to be vested with the State Government by making suitable amendments to the constitution to give effect to the provisions of the National Water Policy 2002.

16. Model Bill 2005 needs to be modified through bottom up approach with community partnership and rational ground water pricing policy.

17. A clear cut demarcation needs to be established between ownership and right to use the resource by enacting laws. The question of land owners and land less needs to be addressed within the legal framework taking into account principles of access, justice and social equity.

18. There is a need for establishing a regime of water rights and entitlements along with dependable water access systems in the predominantly agricultural watersheds to off-set the inequities arising out of natural endowment factors.

19. The slab systems for water pricing structure need to be adopted wherein the economically weaker section of the society and small farmers can be charged at a subsidized rate whereas the big users with the increasing demands, the water price can be increased substantially.

20. It is difficult to prescribe the ‘pricing’ as one of the tool for better ground water management, because it is difficult to price or regulate a resource as the ownership rights are not clearly defined.

21. A regulatory mechanism has to be evolved by introducing slab system of pricing ground water for different uses and also on the quantum. Higher the consumption more should be the price.

22. People’s partnership and participation is a pre-requisite for any groundwater management activity. However, the long term effectiveness of the activity needs to be assessed in a scientific way.

23. Formation of watershed Committees and people’s partnership should be a pre-requisite for watershed development, groundwater augmentation and the Committee/individuals should be made responsible to take measures to recharge the groundwater.

24. Women’s partnership should be an integral part of ground water governance.

Ministry of Water Resources