‘Steps to manage water must be socially equitable, economically viable’

A three-day international symposium on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) got off to a start on the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) campus near Kunnamangalam in the district on Wednesday.

Inaugurating the event via videoconference, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Kerala was committed to implement IWRM since growing demand for adequate freshwater required efficient management of water resources.

Mr. Chandy said that the main objective of the State’s Water Policy was to adopt a multi-sectoral approach for developing and managing water resources.

Problem amid plenty

The Chief Minister said that though the State got more than 3,000 millimetres of rainfall, and had several rivers and wetlands, it faced acute shortage of water during summer months. “An integrated approach, especially at the river basin level, is essential for water resource management in Kerala,” he said.

Vice Chancellor of Kerala Agricultural University P. Rajendran, who was the chief guest, said the perception of people about water varied, based on experience and exposure. Any effort to implement an integrated water resource management in the country should be socially equitable, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable.

‘New courses needed’

E.J. James, Vice Chancellor of Karunya University, Coimbatore, suggested introduction of new courses in water conservation and IWRM at the university-level. Recommendations on water management, made by agencies such as CWRDM, must be implemented at the earliest.

Executive director of CWRDM N.B. Narasimha Prasad, who presided, said that much thought had gone into ways to make IWRM more comprehensive.

Dr. Prasad said a scientific and workable action plan should be prepared.

“Involvement of researchers, academia, industry, and all other stakeholders including the people, plays an important role in it,” said Dr. Prasad.

Networking of organisations directly or indirectly dealing with water resources was also very important. The significance of creating awareness among the public about IWRM could never be overstated. Dr. Prasad said that the set of practical recommendations based on the symposium would be sent to the State and Union governments and to different agencies involved.

Clarence Maloney, international consultant for IWRM, and CWRDM Water Management (Agr) Division Head E.J. Joseph spoke.

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