Keeping in view the challenges emerging from increasing demands on water resources in the country due to population growth, urbanization, industrialization etc., Government of India undertook a review of the National Water Policy, 2002. The new National Water Policy, 2012 has made several recommendations for the improved management of water resources in the country.
The Salient Features of the National Water Policy, 2012 are.
The Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation administers through the States the centrally sponsored scheme, National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) for providing financial and technical assistance to the States to supplement their efforts to provide drinking water to the rural areas. The State Governments are vested with powers to plan, execute and implement drinking water supply schemes under NRDWP.
Ministry of Urban Development is supplementing the efforts of State Governments/Urban Local Bodies in providing water supply in Urban areas/Metropolitan cities under the schemes/ programmes such as Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, North Eastern Region Urban Development Programme, Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources and Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme in Satellite Towns.
In areas where water table is going down in the country, several steps have been taken to encourage artificial recharge, rainwater harvesting and regulation of ground water development to arrest declining ground water levels. For water conservation, rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge to ground water, Government of India has implemented pilot / demonstrative artificial recharge projects during VIII, IX, X and XI plan periods. In addition, technical assistance is provided to the State Governments and other organizations for rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge. In areas where the quality of underground water is not good, remedial measures are concentrated on providing alternative sources of water supply, since in-situ treatment of contaminated aquifers is difficult.
Due to seasonal, geographical and annual variation in availability of water as well as lack of adequate storage, substantial quantity of water, especially during monsoon season, remains unused and flows into sea. As per present assessment, the average annual water availability in the country is 1869 billion cubic meters (BCM). Further, it has been estimated in the year 2009 by Central Water Commission (CWC) that about 450 BCM of surface water and by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) that about 243 BCM of ground water are being utilized for various purposes. The rest of the water could be considered to be flowing down to sea.
Several measures for increasing the storage capacity are taken up by the State Governments, viz, construction of dams, check dams and farm ponds. Government of India supplements the efforts of the State Governments for increasing storage capacity by rendering technical and financial assistance through programmes like Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme and Repair, Renovation and Restoration of Water Bodies.