[Himachal GK] Water Resources of Himachal Pradesh and Related Policies

General Framework of National Water Policy

Rural water supply in India has been a private initiative from time immemorial and formed an important component of the ruler’s duty towards his subjects. The Environment Hygiene Committee (1948-49) recommended a plan of action to provide water supply and sanitation facilities to 90 percent of the population of the country. This culminated in the National Water Supply and Sanitation Programme in 1954. Over the last five decades thus, there has been a significant growth in percentage allocation of fund to the rural water supply and sanitation sector especially in comparison with outlay on urban water supply and sanitation over the same period of time.

As per the national norms the basic water requirement is 40 liters per capita per day (Lt./d). One hand pump or stand post is installed for 250 persons. Such water sources are supposed to be located at a maximum  distance of 1.6 kms in plain and 100 meters elevation difference in hills. In deserts areas, an additional 30 lpcd was recommended for use of livestock.

National Water Policy

In 1987, Ministry of Water Resources prepared a national water policy to provide the directions for the development of water resource throughout the country. The salient features of this policy are –

-                      according highest priority to domestic water supply
-                      protection of ground resources by designing appropriate standards
-                      monitoring of water quality
-                      mapping of water resources

The states have been recommended to formulate their State Water Policies, in conformity with the National policy. In Himachal Pradesh IPH department has prepared  state water policy .In the policy major emphasis has been given on adaptation of integrated approach for the development of water resources. As per the estimate the domestic water supply (rural and urban together) demands are below 5 percent of total consumption, the majority being accounted for by irrigation.

Non-Government Organizations

A large number of NGOs formed the National Association for Water Resource Development Agencies (NAWDA) to intervene in the sector. Positive features with NGOs has been their ability to penetrate remote areas, negotiate more favorable drilling prices (because they are not encumbered by government procedures), select site without succumbing to local pressures, mobilize users and raise contributions. On the negative side, most NGOs have been small time contractors with no interest in working with people and have little technical or management capacity. Therefore, NGOs involvements have to be made with circumstances, realism and based on their capabilities.

Private Sector

This role can be enlarged if reforms are implemented to make this service of commercialized demand oriented service in which service level are tailored to community demands backed by willingness to pay. At present the private sector merely provide the services as contractors.

Institutional Arrangement after 73rd Constitutional Amendment

In the wake of the 73rd amendment act (1992) 29 subjects were added to the jurisdiction of panchayat including responsibility for drinking water, minor irrigation, water management and watershed development. Responsibility of large or regional piped water supply schemes is likely to remain with block or district administration. Possible politicization and bureaucratization of the panchayat bodies leading to strengthening of vested interest in rural areas are key worry that still attends the decentralization of responsibilities to PRIs.

Rural Water Supply in H.P.   

H.P. has a total of 16997 inhabited villages and 45367 habitations. All villages in the HP have been covered under water supply schemes. A revenue village generally covers more than one habitation. In hilly terrains, small habitations have grown near cultivable lands, edge or inside forests. Most of the RWSS were constructed in 1980, under Drinking Water Decade related programmes. All villages were covered by 1994. Out of the total 45367 habitations reported in April 1996, 4590 habitations were classified as not covered, 14047 habitations were partially covered and rest fully covered. Despite efforts to cover all the villages under RWS the actual water availability situation is a matter of concern in the state. Much of the water shortage occurs in Shivailk belt (comprising Sirmaur, Hamirpur, Una, Kangra and Bilaspur). Nearly two-third of the partially covered habitations are situated in the districts Kangra, Shimla and Hamirpur with considerable proportion of area lying in the shivaliks. General features of these dry areas are very thin soil cover, steep slope and high runoff with little water retention at catchments level.  Most of the partially covered habitations are located in Kangra followed by Hamirpur. With high livestock density (varies from 121 to 315 per sqkm) the 40lpcd norm is not sufficient to meet domestic needs. In some shivalik areas, during acute summer there is water crisis, some inhabitants migrate to the nearest valley water source, where water is available for livestock.

At present there are 7989 water supply schemes in H.P.,out of this 1496 are lift water supply schemes , 91 are tube well schemes and 6402 are gravity schemes  .In addition to this there are 14230 hand pumps installed in the State up to may 2006.

H.P. State subsidy for Rural Water Supply

Apart from the full capital cost investment by the state, the government of H.P. bears more than 90% of the O & M cost of rural water supply scheme. In case of Gravity systems O&M cost is negligible but costs escalate to Rs.6/- per kiloliter in case of lift water supply schemes in which power alone may account for 90 percent of cost. Public tap are totally subsidized. The IPH department used to charge only Rs.5/- per private tap per month and Rs.3/- for additional tap in rural areas which has been now been changed to a flat rate of Rs.10/- per household. Private connection accounts less than 5 percent of total water supply schemes (Partial ) Connections. Net recovery of O & M cost is only a small fraction of operating costs.

Source: SOE, State Council for Science, Technology and Environment

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