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Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Friday cautioned that the declining groundwater level is a big challenge before India and stressed that there is a need to conserve, reuse and use water judiciously. The minister was speaking on the occasion of the release of a report on the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) 2.0 by government think tank Niti Aayog.
The CWMI is an important tool to assess and improve the performance of states and union territories in efficient management of water resources. This has been done through a first-of-its kind water data collection exercise in partnership with the Ministry of Jal Shakti, the Ministry of Rural Development and all the states/ union territories.
“The declining groundwater level is a big challenge for India... time has come to conserve, reuse and use water judiciously,” the minister said adding that in the coming days the technology can also be used for water management.
Hopeful that the CWMI will help in formulating future schemes on water conservation and resources, the minister said it will be useful in inspiring states that have lagged behind. Many countries have converted sea water into drinking water, he noted.
“The impacts that we are seeing due to climate change and due to which there is erratic and scanty rainfall it has come has a big challenge for us,” the minister cautioned.
Commenting on the report, Niti Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant said “the important thing is that we are trying to bring in cooperative federalism on water through this very detailed study...the other big thing is that 19 out of 24 states have shown improvement in various areas of water.” It shows that water has become the centre point for the government, he said.
He stated that states that have shown improvement included Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Goa. Another official of Niti Aayog was of the view that “first water index was able to bring water at centre-stage in our policy making. Many states have now improved their performance”.
Stating that the country was going to face tough times due to climate change, the official said “if we do not improve awareness...I think we will not be able to adapt to the emerging situation.”
In a statement NITI Aayog said, scientific management of water was increasingly recognised as being vital to India’s growth and ecosystem sustainability.
The government was being proactive about water management and has created the Ministry of Jal Shakti to consolidate interrelated functions pertaining to water management.
The newly formed Jal Shakti Ministry under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has strived to over bridge the water challenges by launching the Jal Shakti Abhiyan - a campaign for water conservation and water security.
NITI Aayog first launched and conceptualised the Composite Water Management Index in 2018 as a tool to instill the sense of cooperative and competitive federalism among the states.
This was a first ever attempt at creating a pan-India set of metrics that measured different dimensions of water management and use across the life cycle of water.
“This has been done through a first of its kind water data collection exercise in partnership with Ministry of Jal Shakti, Ministry of Rural Development and all the states/ Union Territories,” it said.
The index would provide useful information for the states and also for the concerned central ministries/departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.
“CWMI 2.0 ranks various states for the reference year 2017-18 as against the base year 2016-17,” it said.
In the report released today, Gujarat was positioned at numero uno slot in the reference year (2017-18), followed by Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
In North Eastern and Himalayan States, Himachal Pradesh has been adjudged number 1 in 2017-18 followed by Uttarakhand, Tripura and Assam. The Union Territories have first time submitted their data and Puducherry has been declared as the top ranker.
In terms of incremental change in index (over 2016-17 level), Haryana held number one position in general states and Uttarakhand ranks at first position amongst North Eastern and Himalayan States.
“On an average, 80 per cent of the states assessed on the Index over the last three years have improved their water management scores, with an average improvement of +5.2 points,” the statement said.