SHILLONG | July 13, 2019:
The Meghalaya Cabinet on Friday finally approved the draft of the State Water Policy, 2019.
The draft of the State Water Policy was formulated way back in 2015. But the previous State Governments were not able to bring the draft of the policy before the Cabinet due to several reasons.
One of the major hurdles which the previous Governments had faced was the lack of cooperation on the part of the three Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) to submit their views on the draft of the policy. The ADCs had even declined to attend the consultation meeting convened by the Water Resources department to deliberate on the draft policy.
Former Deputy Chief Minister, Rowel Lyngdoh, who was in-charge of Water Resources department when the draft bill was conceptualized, had expressed his strong resentment over the attitude of the ADCs in coming forward to submit their views and suggestions on the bill. Even the Government departments had taken a lot of time to submit the views and suggestions on the draft policies.
The State Government had in fact roped in German International Cooperation (GIZ) to formulate the Water Policy. The GIZ was roped in as the technical partner in formulating this very important policy which relates to the preservation of the water bodies. The German agency had worked in several countries and assisted in formulating similar policies. But it is not very sure if the inputs given by the German agency were incorporated in the policy.
Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma had assured last month that the State Cabinet will be clearing the draft water policy within a month’s time.
And with the approval of the State Cabinet on Friday, Meghalaya has become the first State in the country to have its Draft Meghalaya State Water Policy 2019.
Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong said that the decision was taken after detailed discussions and deliberation on the draft policy. He said that Meghalaya is the first state in the country to have in place the draft water policy. He further informed that all the details would be notified very soon.
According to Tynsong, the policy intends to achieve sustainable development, management and use of water resources with community participation to improve health and livelihood and reduce vulnerability. He further said that the policy will also take care on the protection of the water bodies through integrated water resources management and environment sustainability for the present and future generations.
Deputy Chief Minister also said that the policy would address issues concerning the protection of the catchments areas even as addressing the issue of pollution of the river. “The policy will gives importance to community participation in carrying forward the policy since the land in Meghalaya belongs to the people and the clan. We will ensure that community participation goes down to the village level,” he said.
Tynsong further informed that water sanitation village committees will also be formed in the pattern of village employment council , adding the policy will go a long way in changing the mindset of the as far as proper utilisation of water is concern. Asserting that there are even disputes in India and abroad over the issue of water, he added that the issue of ground water also features in the policy since it needs to be controlled.
Once the policy is in place, the Government would have a data about the number of flowing rivers and springs and even issues of ground water will be addressed.
As Meghalaya is a hilly state, the rain water from the state reaches Bangladesh within an hour and in the policy, the water resources department has given much importance on the need to construct check dams depending on the detailed research to be done by experts.
“When we create check dams, we want to see that each check dam becomes multi purpose reservoir for the benefit of the people. The department has also taken care of acidic water and high content of iron in water in the policy.