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Wednesday 8 July 2020

Govt bringing systemic changes into water management

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval to implement the National Hydrology Project (NHP). It will be a central sector scheme with a total outlay of Rs 3,679.7674 crore. This includes Rs 3,640 crore for the NHP and Rs 39.7674 crore for the National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC) to be taken up in two stages. It also provides for establishment of the NWIC as an independent organization under the control of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR, RD&GR).

The NHP will help in gathering hydro-meteorological data, which will be stored and analysed on a real-time basis and can be seamlessly accessed by any user at the State, district or village level. The project envisages covering the entire country; the previous hydrology projects had covered only 13 States.

The components of the proposal are:

  1. An in situ hydromet monitoring system and hydromet data acquisition system.
  2. Setting up of the NWIC.
  3. A water resources operation and management system
  4. Water resources institutions and capacity building

The NHP will result in the improvement of:

  1. Data storage, exchange, analysis and dissemination through the NWIC.
  2. Lead time in flood forecast from 1 day to at least 3 days
  3. Mapping of flood inundation areas for use by the disaster management authorities
  4. Assessment of surface and ground water resources in a river basin for better planning and allocation for PMKSY and other schemes of the Union government
  5. Reservoir operations through seasonal yield forecast, drought management, SCADA systems, etc.
  6. Design of SW & GW structures, hydropower units, interlinking of rivers and smart cities.
  7. Fulfilling the objectives of Digital India.
  8. The programme envisages ultimate aim for water management through scientific data collection, dissemination of information on water availability in all blocks of the country and establishing of the NWIC. The automated systems for flood forecasting is aimed at reducing water disaster, thus helping the vulnerable population. It is a people- and farmer-centric programme, as information on water can help predict water availability and help farmers plan their crops and other farm-related activities. Through this programme, India is expected to make a place among nations known for scientific endeavours.

Out of the total outlay of Rs 3,679.7674 crore, Rs 3,640 crore has been earmarked for NHP while Rs 39.7674 crore has been kept aside for the NWIC. Out of the total outlay, 50% of the amount (Rs 1,839.8837 crore) will come in the form of a loan from the World Bank, which will be repaid by the Union government. The remaining 50% will be offered as central assistance from the budgetary support. The entire World Bank loan component and central assistance to the States and central organisations shall be passed on to them as grants.

The development of real-time flood forecasting and reservoir operations will ensure that the gates do not open suddenly, inundating the area down below.

It will facilitate integrated water resource management due to the river basin approach through collation and management of hydro-meteorological data. This will also help in the assessment of water resources namely surface and groundwater, in water resource planning, in prioritizing its allocations and its consumptive use for irrigation.

The process will help in providing real-time information on a dynamic basis to the farmers about the ground water position for them to accordingly plan their cropping pattern.

This will help in promoting efficient and equitable use of water particularly of ground water at the village level.

This will provide information on the quality of water.

The NHP is intended for setting up of a system for timely and reliable water resources data acquisition, storage, collation and management. It will additionally provide tools and systems for informed decision making through decision support systems for water resources assessment, flood management, reservoir operations, drought management, etc. NHP also seeks to build the capacity of State and Central sector organisations in water resource management through the use of information systems and adoption of state-of-the-art technologies like remote sensing.

The MoWR, RD&GR has undergone a paradigm shift in the management of water resources of the country by adopting a river basin approach. In order to efficiently use and manage water resources of the country; adequacy of data, resource assessment, decision support systems, etc are the prerequisites for allocation and prioritization of this fast depleting resource.

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