Authorities in deep slumber despite acute stress on water bodies
JAMMU, June 16: The National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has taken serious note of Jammu and Kashmir Government’s utter failure to furnish data for Composite Water Management Index (CWMI), which has been developed to enable effective water management across the country in the face of growing crisis.
The non-participation in the detailed and first ever major exercise has made it clear that effective management of water resources is least priority for the concerned authorities of the State although there is acute stress on the water bodies because of increasing population and developmental activities.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that as the entire country is facing the worst water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods are under threat and the situation is going to turn worse in the coming years, the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog felt it imperative to put in place timely interventions to make water use efficient and sustainable in the length and breadth of the country.
Accordingly, an exercise was set into motion for development of Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) to enable effective water management in the States in the face of this growing crisis.
The objective behind this exercise was to establish a clear baseline and benchmark for State-level performance on key water indicators; uncover how States have progressed on water issues over time and identify areas for deeper engagement and investment on the part of the States.
All the States and Union Territories were directed to furnish information on 28 points covering nine sectors on the NITI Aayog portal. These sectors included source augmentation and restoration of water bodies; source augmentation (ground water); major and medium irrigation—supply and management; watershed development—supply side management; participatory irrigation practices—demand side management; sustainable on-farm water use practices—demand side management; rural drinking water; urban water supply and sanitation and policy and governance.
The data on these points was collected for two years—the base year of Financial Year 2015-16 and Financial Year 2016-17 for benchmarking of the current water performance of the States and also to study the evolution of this performance across the last two years.
Though all the States in the country effectively participated in the exercise of NITI Aayog yet Jammu and Kashmir failed to furnish information on any of 28 points covering nine sectors, sources said while disclosing that J&K is the only State in the country which has been dubbed as ‘non-cooperating’ State by the NITI Aayog.
While NITI Aayog has classified the States on the basis of the data furnished on its portal in the Composite Water Management Index, which was released two days back, in case of J&K “no-data available’ has been mentioned.
As per the key results of CWMI, no ranking has been given to J&K vis-à-vis State level performance on water resource management. Similarly, “no data available” has been reflected against J&K as far as categorization of high, medium and low performing States on water resource management is concerned.
Likewise, for want of required data NITI Aayog could not ascertain whether J&K is making improvements vis-à-vis management of water resources, rural water access and quality of drinking water.
By not participating in the Composite Water Management Index the concerned authorities of State Government have clearly conveyed that effective management of water resources and becoming part of the national level exercise to meet the water crisis are least priorities for them, sources said.
“It is a matter of concern that J&K which is itself facing water crisis and acute stress on water resources because of growing population and developmental activities doesn’t want to take corrective measures”, they further said while disclosing that NITI Aayog has taken serious note of ‘non-cooperation’ from the J&K and has conveyed its concern to the highest level in the State Government.
It is pertinent to mention here that restoration of water bodies to their pristine glory is also the concern of J&K High Court, which in different Public Interest Litigations (PILs) has passed numerous directions to the State Government.
But, non-participation in the exercise conducted by NITI Aayog has made it clear that concerned authorities of the State have yet not woken from the deep slumber otherwise data sought by the NITI Aayog should have been prepared and made available well in time.