The water policy is being revised in accordance with the National Water Policy.

Against the backdrop of the severe drought in several parts of the state prior to this monsoon, Maharashtra Government is preparing a water policy on the lines of the National Water Policy.

The National Water Policy (NWP) stipulates that state policies should be drafted/revised in accordance with it, a senior official said. NWP was first framed in 1987 and modified in April 2002. It requires that every state formulate its own water policy backed by an action plan.

The government has invited comments and suggestions from various societies working in different sectors, NGOs and other water users for the modification of the present State Water Policy which has been in existence since 2003, he said.

The Departments involved in revision of the state water policy include the Water Resources Department, Water Supply and Sanitation Department, Environmental Department and Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA).

In the 2003 State Water Policy, the priority of water use was: drinking, industrial and irrigation. However, in May 2011, there was a revision of priority: drinking, irrigation and industrial use.

As part of the revision of the state water policy, the government has invited comments from all departments concerned to be submitted by September 30, 2013. The preparation of draft policy will be completed by November 30, and cabinet note on it is expected by April 30 next year.

The new NWP emphasises the need for a national water framework law, comprehensive legislation for optimum development of inter-state rivers and river valleys, amendment of Irrigation and other Acts, the official said.

It states that water, after meeting needs for safe drinking water and sanitation, achieving food security, supporting poor people dependent on agriculture for their livelihood and high priority allocation for minimum eco-system needs, be treated as economic good so as to promote its conservation and efficient use.

The policy says “ecological needs” of the river should be determined recognising that river flows are characterised by low or no flows, small floods, large floods and flow variability and should accommodate development needs.

The national policy also dwells on adaptation strategies in view of climate change for designing and management of water resources structures.

The suggestions can be sent to Deputy Secretary (Irrigation Management), Water Resources Department, in Mantralaya and emailed to wrd_cad_do_imp@maharashtra.gov.in, the official said.