22 Mar :Ministry of Water Resources organized a function in connection with observance of “World Water Day” in association with its other organizations, viz., Central Water Commission (CWC), Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and Central Soil & Material Research Station (CSMRS) here today. World Water Day is celebrated every year on 22nd March to draw attention on the importance of freshwater and to propagate the need of sustainable management of freshwater resources. In 1992, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro had recommended the observance of World Water Day. Thereafter, the United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March of each year as the World Day for Water by adopting a resolution. Since year 1993, March 22nd is being observed as World Day for Water.
Each year World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater, and accordingly, a theme is chosen. This year the theme is ‘Trans-boundary waters: sharing water, sharing opportunities’. In the past, focus was on various other aspects related with water like Women & Water (1995), Water & Health(2001) Water for Development(2002) and Water for Life(2005)- which also marked the beginning of International Decade of Action, 2005-2015. Last year the theme was ‘Sanitation’ as year 2008 was declared as International Year of Sanitation.
During the function, Prof. M.C.Chaturvedi, a globally recognized pioneer of water resources engineering in India, made a presentatation on the subject, ‘Revolutionizing the Development and Management of Transboundary Waters -Shared Waters, Shared Opportunities’. Sh. R.M. Mishra, Joint Secretary, MoWR, Sh. A.K. Ganju, Member, WP&P, CWC and Sh. R.C. Jha, Member, RM, CWC expressed their views on various water resources related issues.
It was emphasized that the theme chosen this year is extremely significant as amicable management of trans-boundary waters will play an important role in facing the challenges ahead in water sector. Water, unlike most other natural resources, does not respect political boundaries. The natural flow of water, both on the Earth’s surface and underground routinely crosses these boundaries.
World’s 263 trans-boundary lakes and river basins include the territory of 145 countries and cover nearly half of the Earth’s land surface. With every country seeking to satisfy its water needs from limited water resources, the conflicts on the issue of sharing of trans-boundary waters are bound to happen. But everyone has to realize that cooperation, not conflict, is the necessity for trans-boundary water management issues. Managing water across borders could promote trust and understanding, leading to a more peaceful and secure world, enabling sustainable economic growth.
In Indian context, the subject is all the more relevant as India is drained by a number of international rivers those rise beyond its borders or flow into lower riparian countries. The co-sharers of these common rivers are Nepal, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan. We already have an agreement with Pakistan on the use of Indus waters by way of Indus Water Treaty. A treaty has also been signed with Nepal on the Integrated Development of Mahakali River including Sarda Barrage, Tanakpur Barrage and Pancheshwar project. With Bangladesh also, an agreement has been reached with regard to sharing of Ganga waters at the common boundary between India and Bangladesh. Negotiations are on for the beneficial use of waters of many other rivers flowing in the Himalayan region through Nepal and India.
There are yet other rivers, which flow through other neighboring countries like China, Bhutan and Myanmar before entering into India. Efforts are underway to reach agreements with these co-basin countries also in respect of the use of waters of such rivers. It was hoped that this year’s theme of World Water day would lead to further cooperation among countries in management of trans-boundary water with mutual respect, understanding and trust. It was also added that our efforts in this direction should not end with the celebration of World Water Day. Rather, it should be a starting point and continue throughout the year to keep the issues at the forefront and to build momentum towards reaching the goal of sustainable management of water resources.