Shillong, July 13: Amid a drought scare in half of India, Meghalaya is all set to become the first state in the country to have a proper water policy.
The state Cabinet on Friday evening approved the draft water policy after an elaborate presentation and detailed discussion at a meeting chaired by chief minister Conrad K Sangma.
The objective of the policy is to recognize water resources as a common pool resource, to provide safe and hygienic water for drinking, domestic and sanitation and livelihood development to all residents of the state, deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong told journalists after the meeting.
“Meghalaya is the first state in the country to have in place a state water policy. The policy was prepared in consultation with the stakeholders and that it would be formally notified shortly,” Tynsong said.
It also aims at ensuring protection and conservation of catchment areas of all water sources to prevent degradation of the quantity and quality of water sources and promote principle of 3Rs – reduce, recycle and reuse, besides enhance resilience to disasters and the impacts of climate change.
Among other things, the draft state water policy which seeks to protect and improve management of water resources while actively involving the community, also states that roof top rainwater harvesting will be made mandatory in all building constructions while traditional water harvesting structures, springs and water bodies will be revived and promoted through programmes for repair, renovation and restoration.
The draft policy also suggested a system to be established by the Meghalaya State Dam Safety Organization (SDSO) to undertake safety audit of bigger dams in the state at periodic intervals to identity and manage safety risks and ensure safety of the dam and mitigate adverse impacts.
Pointing to the land tenure system in the state, the deputy CM said community involvement in implementing the policy is inherently important since land belongs to people or clans.
“We will also have a Water Sanitation Village Council (WSAC) and I am sure this policy will go a long way in changing the mindset of our people and also for proper utilization of water,” he said while adding that all issues related to protection of catchment areas, underground water, addressing concern over river pollution are being outlined in the policy.
Tynsong said the policy has also focused on the need to construct check dams to stop rain water from flowing into Bangladesh “within an hour” because Meghalaya is a hill state.
“Detailed research by experts will be done on how to make each check dam multi-purpose reservoir for the benefit of the people of the state,” he said.
Efforts would also be made to encourage associations of beneficiaries or water users to own up the responsibilities to operate, maintain and manage water infrastructure in the state.
According to the policy, as per the future climate projections, rainfall is projected to increase in the state and the possibility of bringing extreme climatic events is also likely to increase. The climate change may cause flash floods in certain parts while other parts of the state may experience water stress. (Courtesy: HT)