GUWAHATI, Aug 22 - Assam has fared poorly in water resource management in a study conducted by the NITI Aayog and the more disturbing fact is that while, majority of the states managed to improve their performance in the last couple of years, Assam�s performance declined.
Because of the severe water crisis faced by the country, the NITI Aayog carried out a detailed study of the overall scenario in the country and composite water management index for the states were created with indicators like ground water restoration, irrigation management, on farm water use, rural and urban drinking water supply, water policy framework etc. Altogether 24 states of the country were covered under the study and Assam, despite having a number of major rivers and their tributaries fared poorly in the study.
Among the 24 states covered under the study, Assam was ranked 21st and only states of Nagaland, Uttarakhand and Meghalaya are below Assam in the list. The report said that Assam received only 31 composite water management index points, while, Gujarat, a relatively dry state, topped the list with 76 points. Several other major states of the country, which are facing water shortage, fared much better. Even states like Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are much higher in the list. The report also pointed out that the situation in the states, which achieved below 50 in the water management index, can be termed as �alarming�.
The report said that 15 of the 24 states improved their performance in the last couple of years. Meghalaya improved by 8.34 composite water management index points in the last couple of years, while, the performance of Assam declined by 3.06 points from the financial year 2015-16 to 2016-17. In fact, the states, which faced severe drought like situation in the past few years, improved their performance in respect of water management considerably in the last couple of years. Similarly, two other states of the North East � Tripura and Sikkim, also improved their performance considerably in the last two years.
The report of the NITI Aayog presented a gloomy picture of the overall water availability in India and stressed the need for immediate steps to deal with the problem. The report said that India is presently suffering from one of its worst ever water crisis and millions of lives and livelihoods are under threat. The report revealed that 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe drinking water. �The situation will only get worse as by the year 2030, the demand is projected to be twice the available water supply, implying water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and six per cent loss in the GDP of the country,� the report said.
The report said that the NITI Aayog has developed the composite water management index to enable the states to come up with effective water management schemes to face the growing crisis. The Centre-state and inter-state cooperation is also required to overcome the crisis, the report pointed out. The composite water management index is an effort to create a data based decision making process for water management in the country which can encourage water governance and management, the NITI Aayog said.
The report further said that all the states would have to concentrate on areas like water source augmentation, ground water restoration, restoration of the water bodies, major and minor irrigation, watershed development, participatory irrigation practice, sustainable water use practices, rural and urban drinking water supply, policy and governance etc to deal with the growing water crisis.