Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Wednesday declared that the Government was working on an integrated water resource management policy for the whole country and also offered to mediate in the matter of providing adequate water to Delhi.
Speaking to media persons after a meeting with Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Finance Minister A.K. Walia and various officials in which the Annual Plan 2010-11 for Delhi was discussed and finalised, Dr. Ahluwalia said the issue of water was discussed at length. "The total availability of water in Delhi is more. But lakhs of people come into Delhi every year and we have to plan where the water is to come from.’’
Stating that a long-term solution was needed, he said, the work on supply from Renuka Dam was on. "It is not Delhi’s problem alone as other States have to supply the water. So we will help them.’’
In Delhi, he said, the availability of water was not an issue. "There is a lot of wastage and attempts are being made to reduce it. Treated water can be used for washing and industrial use. Delhi Government has also stated that steps are being taken to recharge ground water and this will lead to improvement.’’
Noting that "water is India’s problem’’, Dr. Ahluwalia said "the water crisis is more important than the energy crisis. We will have to do a lot to conserve water’’. In this regard, he said, an integrated water resource management policy was being worked on.
On the issue of inter-linking of rivers, Dr. Ahluwalia said "it alone will not solve the problem as the water surplus States do not want to share their water. Only the Ken-Betwa project has got underway in this scheme’’.
Calling for creating a very high level of public awareness about water conservation, Dr. Ahluwalia said while the problem is being faced the world over, India’s advantage is that "we are thinking about it relatively early’’.
Earlier during the meeting, Ms. Dikshit had requested Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission to expedite clearances for immediate commencement on construction of Renuka Reservoir by Himachal Pradesh Government. She also raised the issues of allotment of land for construction of more Economically Weaker Section houses, funding for Delhi Metro Phase-III, implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and Commonwealth Games projects, early completion of Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways, and approval of proposed DUMTA Bill.
In the meeting the Plan Outlay of Rs.11,400 crore was approved. It was also stated that this would be funded with the Central Plan Assistance of Rs.1,284 crore and Delhi Government’s own resources of Rs.10,116 crore.
Dr. Ahluwalia also urged the Delhi Government to prepare a draft of the 12th Plan, keeping in view issues of importance for Delhi. Dr. Walia had earlier raised the issue of increasing the allocation for Delhi under JNNURM as Delhi needs more funds for a number of projects approved and being implemented under the Mission.
It was also stated Delhi Government will invest about 38 per cent (Rs.4,224 crore) of the total approved outlay in the current year on transport sector projects followed by 13 per cent (Rs.1,500 crore) on water supply and sanitation, 13 per cent (Rs.1,417 crore) on housing and urban development, 11 per cent (Rs.1,243 crore) on medical and public health, 10 per cent (Rs.1,122 crore) on education, including sports, and 7 per cent (Rs.807 crore) on social welfare and women and child welfare.