New Delhi: Gujarat continues to be the top performer in water management even as Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh have further increased their scores over the last three years, according to a report by NITI Aayog. Meanwhile, states, including Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Bihar, continued to be in the low-performing category.
The Comprehensive Water Management Index (CWMI) by NITI Aayog, which measures the performance of states on a set of water indicators, comes at a time when various states across the country are facing a shortage in groundwater.
The CWMI also looks at states' relative performance in the last three years. This report comprises nine themes, including attention to groundwater, restoration of water bodies and covers 25 states, two Union Territories. It does not include data from West Bengal, Mizoram, Manipur and Jammu & Kashmir. Among states, Haryana has shown the maximum improvement and increased nine positions while Chhattisgarh’s rank has reduced by four positions.
According to the report, high-performers continue to demonstrate strong water management practices, but low-performers are struggling to cope up. At the same time the report said states are displaying progress in water management, but the overall performance remains well-below of what is required to adequately tackle India’s water challenges.
“80% of states assessed on the Index over the last three years have improved their water management scores, with an average improvement of +5.2 points. But worryingly, 16 out of the 27 states still score less than 50 points on the Index (out of 100), and fall in the low-performing category. These states collectively account for 48% of the population, 40% of agricultural produce, and 35% of economic output of India," the report said.
While launching the report, Central Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said, “The issue of water is one that everyone in the country and the world is worried about. We will work on finding ways to make states that are lagging behind and reports like these will help in making policies. We need to look at water in a holistic manner. The government will work on looking for solutions to desalinate water, make treated water available for industries and work on recharging groundwater."
According to the report, large economic contributors have low-water management scores and poor management here can hamper India’s economic progress. “Given the indispensable role of water in any form of economic activity, water shortages can lead to reduced output in these states, and as a consequence, threaten India’s aspirations to be an economic superpower in the future," the report adds.
The report points out that going forward, states need to build on this momentum, and upgrade their water management practices to show outcomes and not just outputs. Several disparities exist in water management amongst states and improved knowledge-sharing amongst states can enable them to learn and solidify water management practices across the board.
Ramesh Chand, member, NITI Aayog, suggested that the report also look at areas like agriculture which could have a larger impact on saving water along with focusing on low performing states. “States which are in the bottom in terms of rank are further Declining. When you look at the change, though they had low ranks but the need for change is not happening. What happens in agriculture will have more of an impact. To meet the future need we have to save water in agriculture. I suggest we include some variable from Agriculture sector," he said.