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13 States, UTs improve their water management practices

Saving every drop: NITI Aayog has come up with an index to look into water conservation policies.

Saving every drop: NITI Aayog has come up with an index to look into water conservation policies.   | Photo Credit: A. SHAIKMOHIDEEN

Gujarat tops rankings for second time

Thirteen of the 27 States and Union Territories have improved their water management practices from last year, an analysis by the NITI Aayog has revealed.

Gujarat, though it dropped a point, topped the rankings for the second year in a row with a score of 75 out of a maximum possible 100.

Six States did worse than last year — with Delhi, which was evaluated for the first time this year garnering the lowest score — and three maintained their position from last year, according to the Composite Water Management Index, a ranking tool developed by the NITI Aayog and unveiled last year.

The ‘index’ aims at capturing how well States have done on groundwater and surface water restoration, implementing major and medium irrigation projects, watershed development, participatory irrigation management, on-farm water use, rural and urban water supply, and policy and governance.

These indicators were broken down into 28 objective indicators that include determining whether the State had policies and infrastructure in place to conserve groundwater, or its performance in providing piped water to villages.

Sixteen out of the 27 States and UTs assessed last year scored less than 50% of total achievable score, and remained in the ‘low-performing’ category. The average improvement among the low-performing States stood at 3.1 points, lower than the 5.2-point average improvement observed across States in the last three years. Haryana, Goa and Uttarakhand made remarkable gains from last year, the report noted.

The 16 low-performing States collectively account for 48% of the population, 40% of agricultural produce, and 35% of economic output for India.

For the index, States were required to fill out the necessary data on a NITI Aayog portal and this data was validated by an independent firm called IPE Global.

“The results of this year’s exercise reveal an overall improvement in State performance, but severe disparities remain between states, and across themes, which must be bridged,” the report noted.

Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog said that those States growing crops that consumed excess water need to refrain from doing so and progress would come about only through “inter-State cooperation.”

Last year, the NITI Aayog report painted an ominous picture. Nearly 600 million Indians faced high to extreme water stress and about 2,00,000 people died every year due to inadequate access to safe water. It warned of unsustainable groundwater extraction and loss to India's GDP if steps weren’t taken.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 10:41:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/13-states-uts-improve-their-water-management-practices/article29236531.ece

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