New Delhi: Highlighting drawbacks in providing free power to farmers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 11 September said government cannot continue to subsidise the economic and commercial use of water.
“Providing free power to farmers has encouraged excessive use of pump sets and excessive drawing of ground water. If there is economic pricing of power, there would be some incentive for conserving ground water,” he said inaugurating the National Congress on Ground Water here.
Water conservation and management could be better served through appropriate incentives and penalties, Singh said adding “we cannot continue to subsidise the economic and commercial use of water.”
“There are related policies that must be corrected to ensure water conservation, especially ground water,” he told a gathering which included Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, water experts and planners.
Observing that human kind has not done enough to replenish, conserve and safeguard the sources of water supply, he said “on the contrary, given the threat of climate change and global warming, we face the real prospect of reduced supply of water.”
“This threat is of particular concern to us in India since we have, since times immemorial, depended on glaciers for our water supply in this part of our sub-continent,” he said.
Soz said over-exploitation and contamination of ground water in some areas has led to apprehension about its sustainability.
PM praises Chennai for conserving water
“We have the impressive example of Chennai city that has a city-based, neighbourhood-based strategy” on water conservation, the PM said.
Noting that Panchayati Raj institutions, municipalities and local bodies along with civil organisations have a critical and vital role to play, Singh wanted each and every panchayat and municipality to come forward with a water conservation strategy.
Every village, every locality, every neighbourhood, every town should have a rain water harvesting scheme, he said adding panchayats must be actively engaged in ground water recharge and the renovation and maintenance of water bodies.
Observing that any strategy for water conservation, management and utilisation cannot be imposed on the country from New Delhi, Singh said the country needed a community-based, region-specific strategy that was owned by the people who have to implement it.