New water policy in offing for sustainable management of water resources

Kathmandu / Jan 6: Nepal annually makes use of 10 percent of its available water. In this context, the government set a goal for its further utilisation. Around 200 billion cubic meters of water is supplied from natural resources and 10 billion cubic meters recharged water is available from underground resources.

The Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation is working on a new water policy draft upon realising the prompt need of it for the proper utilization of water available here as the issue concerning development and management of water resources is directly linked with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is expected to be met by 2030.

Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barshaman Pun said the Ministry was working on a draft of the ‘National Water Resource Policy’. As he shared, the Secretariat of Energy Commission has been already directed to come up with a revised copy of the draft by the next two weeks.

The Secretariat has been asked to sit for extensive discussions with bodies concerned before finalising the draft. “The existing water policy is not sufficient to deal with the water use and manage issues as we are in the new federal set up,” he said, adding that it was vital for a balance in the exercise of rights among the governments at three levels.

He added: “We have sufficient water, but unequal distribution is the problem. Where we need, there is the crisis. Water resources are vanishing due to impact of climate change.” He said water must be preserved for our future generation and a new policy is largely realized for the conservation and well management of water resources and for its multi-use.

The draft has set priority to the use of water for drinking and household consumption. Irrigation, livestock keeping and fishery, hydropower, the use of water for industrial purposes and mining, water transport, religious, cultural or environmental conservation, and tourism are other issues incorporated by the draft.

The draft vows to ensure the preventions of deforestation, development works causing deforestation, land erosion and adverse environmental impact and haphazard mining, conserving water shed areas through a cooperation among the bodies concerned. It is overall focused on the proper use and sustainable management of water resources, by protecting natural flora and fauna; natural, cultural and religious heritages and social environment with the promotion of greenery.

The new provision in the draft seeks the clarity whether the preparation of a design of any project goes in line with water resources conservation criteria. A certificate about meeting conservation criteria is mandatory before the design preparation.

As Minister said, the final draft (policy) will be possibly endorsed by the Federal Parliament’s current session. The government is working to give final shape to the document and introduce it to the Parliament for endorsement via the Council of Ministers.

According to UNICEF, around 3.5 million people do not have access to basic water services in Nepal. Although ninety-five percent households have access to improved water sources in the country, only 24.4 per cent of water supply systems were properly functioning.

There are around 6,000 rivers including rivulets and tributaries in Nepal.

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