For a country its size, India’s water usage patterns border on being criminally negligent. Parts of the country, for example Maharashtra, are facing elevated water stress. Others are wasting water in huge amounts by growing crops unsuited for their agro-climatic zones.

For a week starting today, the country will be observing a water week. A jamboree is planned in New Delhi. The National Water Policy 2012 will be released on the occasion.

These are futile efforts.

Much like industrial policies of a bygone age, multiple exceptions are likely to creep into such a water policy, suiting special interests—ranging from sugar cane farmers to industries unwilling to pay the right amount for this precious liquid. A much better option is to align use with the cost of delivering water—from its extraction to the last tap from which it flows. India cannot avoid a cost-plus pricing formula for water any more.

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