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Make a budget for needs
September, 12th 2009

The state took the first step towards introducing `water budgeting' on Friday to check fast depleting water resources. The newly formed UP Water Management and Regulation Commission (UPWMRC) in its first meeting decided to draw river basin-wise plans to identify availability of surface and ground water resources and regulate its distribution for domestic, irrigation and industrial use.

Presided by H L Birdi, chairperson, UPWMRC, all the departments related to water supply and its use took part in the meeting, which decided to collect data of water availability, demand and supply within 15 days so that UPWMRC can formulate plans respectively for eight river basins in the state. The eight basins are Ganga, Yamuna, Gomti, Ram Ganga, Rapti, Ghaghra, Soan and Gandak. Each river basin has its own surface and ground water source which is used for domestic, irrigation and industrial use. However, mismanagement, indiscriminate extraction and polluting has left UP's water resources in a dire state.

UP is the second state after Maharashtra to constitute a commission for water regulation and management. In fact, formation of UPWMRC was a condition laid down by the World Bank which funded the Water Sector Restructuring Project. While the chairperson has been appointed, five other members from different sectors related to water, environment, finance and planning will be nominated soon.

The UPWMRC mandate includes collection of data related to surface and ground water in the state, analyse it and control distribution. In coming days, the the UPWMRC will also decide the water tariff for domestic, irrigation and industrial use.

The state water resource agency and state water resource data and analysis centre will work as a secretariat of the commission and assist in drafting of the rivers basin-wise. "Besides checking misuse of the water resources, we will also plan how to strengthen water bodies and keep them pollution free," Birdi told TOI. As a first step, he added, we have decided to compile data on the number of tube-wells in the state, sector-wise situation of ground water, availability of surface water, canals and demand in domestic, irrigation and industrial sector. Thereafter, he said, river basin-wise usage plans will be rolled out.

The urgency of water budgeting in UP can be understood from the fact that 50 blocks have been declared as a dark zone where ground water level as gone eight metres below surface and depletion in pre and post-monsoon season is at the rate of 10 cm per year. Situation is critical in Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur, Bareilly, Varanasi, Jhansi, Meerut, Baghpat, Moradabad, Agra and Muzaffarnagar. The drop in ground water has been responsible for the land subsidence seen in parts of the state last year. At present, UP is extracting 4.88 million hectare metre of water annually but recharging of aquifers is very low.

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