CHENNAI: The state government is set to upgrade its existing State Water Policy by January next year.
According to official sources, as part of the new policy, the government is discussing the possibility of charging groundwater extraction for commercial purposes.
In addition to that, water audits of irrigation structures like dams, reservoirs, multi-purpose water projects and canal systems may be undertaken and district-level water resources planning committees may be constituted under the chairmanship of the district collector.
A senior official from the Water Resources Department (WRD) has confirmed the move, saying, “The state planning commission and WRD are in discussion with experts and farmers to facilitate the implementation of the new water policy.”
“Tamil Nadu government initially introduced the State Water Policy back in 1994 and subsequently upgraded it in 2012. According to the regulations, the policy should be revised every four years. However, due to various reasons, the implementation of the updated water policy has faced delays,” the official added. Additionally, the official highlighted that the primary goal of the water policy is to comprehensively assess the current situation, tackle challenges, and address concerns specific to the state.
Another official said, “The Thiruppugazh committee has recently submitted a proposal to the state government outlining key points, and it will also be incorporated in the policy. These key aspects focus on water conservation, safeguarding waterbodies from pollution, flood management, protecting the delta regions, and more.”
The policy encompasses various government departments involved in water management, pollution control, local bodies, stakeholders, and the citizens of the state. It aims to develop strategies for addressing concerns and improving the state’s water management practices.
G Ajeethan, state general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Banana Growers Federation, emphasized, “Water conservation and management fall within the state’s responsibilities, while rivers are a shared concern. To ensure responsible water management, establishing a water audit unit like the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) is essential, and its findings should be accessible to the public.”
Ajeethan further pointed out, “Through this water audit unit, farmers can gain insights into water storage, usage, prevention of wastage, dam levels, monsoon predictions, and even crop patterns. Addressing the issue of polluted water bodies is critical, and strict measures should be taken against those causing pollution.”