The National Water Mission (NWM) is one of the eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change. It aims to develop a framework to optimise the use of water through regulatory mechanisms with differential entitlements and pricing, in line with the provisions of the National Water Policy. The main objective of the NWM is to conserve water, minimise wastage and ensure its more equitable distribution both across and within the states through integrated water resources development and management. There are five goals of the NWM – assessment of the impact of climate change on water resources through a comprehensive database, promotion of citizen and state actions for conservation, augmentation and preservation of water, focused attention on vulnerable areas, increasing water use efficiency by 20 per cent, and promotion of basin-level integrated water resources management. The NWM, under the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, has initiated the NWM awards to recognise excellence in water conservation, efficient water use and sustainable water management practices. The mission document lists five goals and 39 strategies. One of the strategies of the NWM under Goal IV is to incentivise organisations and companies to take up water conservation and ensure efficient use of water through awards.
Awards and awardees
In 2019, 20 organisations received the NWM awards wherein the prize money was Rs 200,000 for the first, Rs 150,000 for the second and Rs 100,000 for the third position. The awards, given across 10 categories defined under the stated goals of the NWM, felicitated excellence in water conservation, efficient water use, and sustainable water management practices. Awards were also given under sub categories such as promotion of citizen and state actions for water conservation, and promotion of basin-level integrated water resources management. The award for increasing water use efficiency by 20 per cent included awards for local individuals/ farmers/ citizens, water users’ associations/self-help groups/resident welfare associations, public agencies such as urban local bodies/government organisations, industries/corporates, and small and medium enterprises.
Amongst the states, Andhra Pradesh secured the top spot by receiving five awards for best performance in water resources management. Its Information System and Integrated Water Management System in the river basin won the first prize whereas its Water Department Project got the second prize in the assessment of the impact of climate change in the water resources category. Further, under the increasing water use efficiency by 20 per cent category, the Andhra Pradesh Horticulture Department was felicitated with the water mission award for micro-irrigation. The Department of Industries was awarded for outstanding water management while Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) in Guntur won under the corporate category for improving water efficiency. HCCB has managed to successfully improve water management through the installation of water treatment plant for ensuring zero liquid discharge, and back wash recovery system. These awards are expected to further encourage Andhra Pradesh to work harder in order to retain its ranking in the coming years.
The second place was held by three states – Telangana, Rajasthan and Maharashtra – with three awards each. Rajasthan got awarded for water conservation and efficient use practices under the category of promotion of citizen and state actions for water conservation, augmentation and preservation. Besides, its Narmada Canal Project and Indira Gandhi Nahar Project (IGNP) Phase II at Tejpur received the first and second prizes in the category of water conservation, efficient water use and sustainable water management practices by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
While the Narmada project has managed to increase the area under irrigation from 136,000 hectares to 246,000 hectares in Barmer and Jalore, IGNP Phase II has expanded the cropped area from 144 hectares to 1,111 hectares since 2011-12 with the help of micro irrigation facility. The introduction of micro-irrigation in desert areas has helped in improving the socio-economic condition of the beneficiaries.
The Telangana Irrigation and CAD Department (I&CAD) received an award for developing the Telangana Water Resources Information System and its Groundwater Department was felicitated for its work on user centred aquifer-level groundwater management. On August 6, 2016, Telangana launched a unique water resources information system to assess the accurate reserves of water in thousands of tanks and reservoirs across the state. The Telangana I&CAD also signed an MoU with the Indian Space Research Organisation over sharing of satellite data. The system is designed to help the government authorities plan for new irrigation projects as well as maintain transparency in governance. The third award was given to the state’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department for Mission Bhagiratha. The aim of the mission is to supply safe drinking water to every village, even in remote areas, through the provision of water tap connection to every household. Mission Bhagiratha is a massive project with an outlay of Rs 450.28 billion, covering 27.2 million people and 6.53 million households.
The Water Resources Department of Maharashtra secured the second prize for integrated water resources management in the upper Godavari sub-basin. It used the e-source modelling framework for achieving equitable distribution of water in the sub-basin. In the increasing water use efficiency by industries and corporates category, Raymond UCO Denim Private Limited in Maharashtra received the third prize for effective water and effluent management at their unit.
Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh each got two awards while Karnataka, Punjab, Kerala and Tamil Nadu received an award each in various categories. The Environmental Planning and Coordination Organisation, Department of Environment, Bhopal received the first prize for climate change vulnerability assessment study of Madhya Pradesh. The Shivganga Samagra Gramvikas Parishad received the second prize for its efforts in water conservation in the water-stressed tribal district of Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh, the Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan received the prize for water conservation and augmentation work in Sumerpur block of Hamirpur district in the Bundelkhand region. Lalitpur Power Generation Company Limited received the second prize for its efforts in water conservation and increasing water use efficiency.
The third prize under the category of promotion of citizen and state actions for water conservation, augmentation and preservation was shared by the states of Punjab and Kerala. The Department of Soil and Water Conservation, Punjab, was given the prize in recognition of its work towards efficient utilisation of treated wastewater for irrigation purposes from the sewage treatment plant in Phagwara, while the Pampa Parirakshana Samithy was lauded for its efforts to rejuvenate Varanchal (floodplain wetland) and Pampa in Kerala. Under the category for increasing water use efficiency by 20 per cent by locals, farmers and citizens, Dr.S. Sendur Kumaran of KVK Kundrakudi received the second prize. He was felicitated for increasing water use efficiency through micro irrigation for vegetables in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu. The Jalaposhan Trust received the second prize for the conservation and preservation of the 200 -year-old Jakkur Lake under the category of promotion of citizen and state actions for water conservation, augmentation and preservation.
Unfortunately, only 4 per cent of funds earmarked for corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds were spent on water conservation. Meanwhile, water-intensive industries dedicated only 11 per cent of their CSR spending on water conservation. This underlines an urgent need for stricter government policies on water conservation.
These awards strive to ensure that companies, organisations and other stakeholders do their bit in conserving water so that a considerable share of the water needs of urban areas are met through recycling of wastewater.