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Managing Water Resources
Central Water Commission (CWC) has come a long way since its establishment. It has been a harbinger of new technologies and approaches for comprehensive development and management of water resources of the country. The organisation has the highest level of expertise in the fields of designs, river management and projects appraisal and provides its services to the Ministry, Planning Commission and other central and state government agencies in need of the same. A B Pandya, Member (D&R), Central Water Commission, elucidates management of water resources in the country.

The organisation has a key role to play by way of designs and developments in the neighbouring countries in Asian and African continents especially Bhutan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, etc. The organisation is manned by the expert cadre officers from Central Water Engineering Services. Presently, more than 20 water resources projects are under active designs and also there are major international agencies funded programmes in the fields of dam safety, hydrological data management and analysis are under operation through the organisation.

Protecting Water Resources
For pursuing the projects in the field of water resources, the major challenges are to protect sources in terms of locations as well as in terms of quality of the water that may become available through them. Growing industrialisation and urbanisation has outpaced the post-use treatment capacities and this leads to the problems of inadequate water quality for the areas in the effluent path. Also, comprehensive and sustainable solutions required for the purpose are mired in long debates and the implementation in a pro-active manner is suffering.

Urban centers are also emerging as highly concentrated sources of economic growth and also sink for the commensurate resources for the growth. It is difficult to provide sustainable sources of water through the traditional measures and it is required to tap new sources so that the growth can be sustained. One of the most common outcomes of the growth is the unsustainable development of the ground water and stresses generated thereby. Coupled with the quality issues, it is a serious challenge that needs to be addressed.

Community participation in the management of the resources with the adoption of basin centric approach for the development and allocation of water resources is the key to the sustainable development for the rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. Also, the quality management of the effluents so that the reuse and recycling can augment the additional resources is the key to the sustainable development in this context.

Most of the projects that are to be addressed by CWC are fraught with challenges. These are handled by CWC because these projects could not be executed by local agencies at their own level. CWC faces challenges in terms of designing and implementing projects in the Himalayan terrain for hydropower development. Management of flood problems across the country is another challenge that CWC faces year on year. River erosion in lower reaches of Ganga is a serious problem that CWC handles regularly and to the general appreciation of the beneficiaries. CWC also faces challenges in terms of promoting new concepts of basin management, dam safety management and progress monitoring for the projects in hand and being undertaken new. Challenges in terms of managing inter-state issues and international issues are many and highly varied. These issues require skills that have to transcend the technical knowhow and also delve into strategic, legal and policy fields.

How CWC Deal with Policy Level Issues?
CWC tries to adopt a consensual approach for dealing with the states and various state based agencies for resolving the issues that may crop up from time to time. Water being a state subject, the sharing of the resources especially in times of inadequate inflows is a very serious challenge. CWC works on a basin wise approach and brings the developments taking place in the same basin but in different states in a basin context so that the solution is suitable in terms of topographical and hydrological resources.

CWC works in a tight loop with the Ministry of Water Resources and provides relevant technical and managerial inputs to the Government for addressing various policy issues and impact of the policy interventions on the development scenario. CWC have a dedicated wing namely, Water Planning and Progress which keeps track of the policy changes required and also monitors the developmental activities in water resources field in various states in consonance with the policies laid down by the government. In fact, being an attached office of the Ministry of Water Resources, there is a constant information and knowledge exchange between the Ministry, Planning Commission and CWC for formulating the policies. As far as water governance is concerned, the implementation of the guidelines in respect of major irrigation sector programmes of Government of India is handled by the CWC offices only.

India - Highly Competitive Market for Wastewater Treatment and Desalination In respect of wastewater treatment, the inputs from the major global players are of utmost importance as the new technologies developed elsewhere are brought in by these players in the field. Desalination of water is a new area of generating alternative sources of municipal water. With the increasing exploitation of ground water, there is a need to look at cost-effective desalination techniques for providing the large scale resources of fresh water. Our coastal areas are often lack adequate fresh water resources for their development. On the other hand, the industrialisation can be effectively supported by the easy access to shipping in such areas. Moreover, these areas being less fertile, the pressure on land for agricultural development is lesser and lands can be made available for the industrial and urban development. Hence, the desalination is an important measure that needs a closer look by the planners and developers. With the advent of table top desalination plants using reverse Osmosis technologies, the technique has entered into a consumer products area and has become quite competitive. However, the need for addressing new and innovative methods for community level and municipality level desalination plants is a growing field and will help cater developmental needs for the future. We expect a lot of competition to come up in these areas in near future especially in context of communities located in coastal areas.

Water sector has a large scope for services for improvement of efficiencies in various uses of water. In fact, the efficiency improvement in agriculture and through re-use and recycling means has the largest impact on assuring our future water assurance for future developmental needs. Services are needed for bringing newer technologies, selling them to the communities and then on maintaining the same. Such services will require across all levels of implementation starting from planning at national or regional level, construction and post construction trouble shooting and maintenance of the measures implemented. The lower end will have the potential to extend to village level through franchise routes and the higher end services will facilitate governments and communities to understand and implement them.

Efficient services will play a key role in sustaining the efficiency improvements that are being sought by the Government through National Action Plan for climate change where a considerable chunk of financial resources are being allocated for promoting the improvements in efficiencies.

Desalination market is very important in view of the fact that the recycled water though may be safe from biological angle, may need removal of harmful dissolved components before that can be put into certain uses like drinking. There is a large body of deficient quality ground water which can be beneficially used through desalination techniques. In our coastal and desert areas, the ground water is often available in brackish form but the land resources required development are relatively easy to mobilise. In such areas, the developments can be profitably supported by the desalination techniques.

Sewage treatment process market requires amenability of large municipal level plants and facilities whereas the desalination market is providing the solutions even at the household level. Hence, the spread of desalination techniques at micro and medium level is growing through individual initiatives.

12th Five-Year Plan and CWC For the XII plan, the working group on major and medium projects and Command area development has recommended a total out lay of 3419 billion out of which 2086 billion will be through the state sector and the rest will be though central sector and state sector schemes administered by the central government.

The allocation include sizeable chunk of resources for improvement of efficiency and reform measures like better management practices, Extension, Renovation and Modernisation of existing projects etc. Water has been recognised as a key resource for development of economy and upliftment of the economic level of the disadvantaged classes. CWC has to strive in conjunction with the Ministry to achieve the targets enunciated in the XII Plan.

Most pressing issue to be addressed by CWC in the oncoming time is to handle the changing nature of water resources management in the country. While new developments require heavy reliance on engineering and technology, the management of the created resources require inputs in areas of community participation, techno-commercial sustainability and continued changes in utilisation patterns as the beneficiary areas undergo economic status changes.

Water resources development is increasingly becoming inter-disciplinary but with a strong linkage to the sound engineering and hydrological principles. The water resources development professionals will need increasing dialogue with the economists, sociologists and other associated disciplines for explaining the context of the development strategies adopted and generating acceptability of the measures planned across the beneficiaries.

CWC is moving towards a basin centric approach where the developmental needs of a river basin as a unit are understood and planning progresses according to a master plan where all the present and future needs are accounted for. CWC would like to have a dynamic but dispassionate development dialogue amongst all stake holders for generating the acceptable solutions across the board.