Pakistan’s National Water Policy was first prepared in 2005 for providing guidelines and a clear road map for development and management of the water resources. However, it could not get approved from relevant forum at that time. Later on, in 2010, its updating was taken up to include issues of climate change and its impact on water resources. The NWP was updated after extensive consultations and deliberations with all major stakeholders and it was sent to M/o Law & Justice for vetting. Law Division advised that Federal Ministry may issue this Policy, in consultation with provinces through M/o Inter Provincial Coordination. Consequently, updated NWP was again circulated to all major stakeholders for review and comments. The draft NWP was presented in the 36th meeting of CCI held on March 27, 2018 and was approved in principle subject to incorporation of certain amendments proposed by the stake-holders and it was decided to present NWP along with a Water Charter for final approval in the next CCI meeting. Accordingly, the NWP along with Water Charter was presented and approved in 37th meeting of CCI held on April 24, 2018.
OBJECTIVES OF NWP
The objective of the National Water Policy is to take cognizance of the existing situation and to propose a framework for creation of an overarching system of laws and institutions and for a plan of action with a unified national perspective; Water Security, Food security, Hydropower development, Trans-boundary waters, Flood and drought management, Environment protection, Judicious use of surface and groundwater, Watershed management
Processes of planning, development and management of water resources shall have the Guiding Principles; Equity, Efficiency, Participatory decision-making; Sustainability, Transparency & Accountability.
STRATEGIC PRIORITIES OF NWP
Strategic Priorities indicated in NWP are; Water Conservation & Efficiency, Storage, Leveraging Technology, Renewable Energy, Integrated Water Resource Management and Comprehensive Regulatory Framework while Planning Principles of NWP include; Equity and Participatory decision-making, Affordable Access, Promoting Efficiency & Conservation, Environmental Sustainability, Practicability and Innovation and Supporting Command area development.
SALIENT FEATURES OF NWP
Salient features of NWP are; Water Uses and Allocation of Priorities, Integrated Planning for Development and use of Water Resources, Environmental Integrity of Basin, Impact of Climate Change, Transboundary Water Sharing, Irrigated as well as Rainfed Agriculture, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Hydropower, Industry, Ground Water, Water Rights/Obligations, Stakeholder’s Participation, Sustainable Water Infrastructure, Water-Related Hazards, Quality Management, Information Management, Research, Economic and Financial Sustainability, Demand Management, Conservation of Water, Legal Framework and Capacity Building of Water Sector Institutions.
The Policy has been prepared to protect all interests by ensuring a neutral perspective. It envisages to add 10 MAF in our existing live storage under a development action plan till 2030especially through construction of Diamer-Basha and Mohmand dams besides implementing National Flood Protection Plan-IV, Comprehensive program on water conservation and Drainage, Irrigation system Rehabilitation, Capacity building of water sector institutions and Research programme with a total outlay of PKR 3,066 billion (USD 27 billion) over the next 12 years.
IMPLEMENTATION MECHANISM OF NWP
For implementation of NWP, a national body named as “National Water Council” (NWC) has been established under chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Pakistan with Federal Minister for Water Resources, Federal Minister for Finance, Federal Minister for Power, Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform and Provincial Chief Ministers as members. The prime function of the NWC is to oversee the implementation of the Policy and issue directions where appropriate.
The first meeting of National Water Council has recently been held on 25th October 2018 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister with the presence of relevant Federal Ministers and Provincial Chief Ministers. The Secretary Water Resources briefed the meeting, in detail, about the contours of National Water Policy and the strategic priorities set in the policy. Chairman WAPDA briefed the meeting about the progress on various projects of water storage and power generation. The Prime Minister directed that the proposals be analyzed by the Policy Steering Committee under the chairmanship of Minister for Water Resources, which would submit its recommendations.
A “NWP-Steering Committee” has also been constituted to oversee and monitor the policy implementation guidelines given by the NWC through Policy Implementation Cell. The Steering Committee is headed by the Federal Minister for Water Resources with representatives from federal and provincial governments and concerned organizations. Now the work on organizing the first meeting of the Steering Committee is under progress and it is expected to be held in near future under the Chairmanship of the Federal Minister for Water Resources, wherein the issues pertaining to national water challenges will be taken up, as directed by the Honourable Prime Minister of Pakistan in the NWC meeting . The objective of the National Water Policy is to take cognizance of the emerging water crisis and provide comprehensive guidelines for water resources management and development as per international practice. It also contains a national development action plan till 2030. Pakistan has a federal system of government and the provinces enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy. Thus, this policy is a national framework within which the provinces can develop their master plans for sustainable development and management of water resources. It will pave way for improved sustainable and integrated water resources management in the country.
Chief Engineering Adviser/Chairman Federal Flood Commission, Building No. 6, Ataturk Avenue, Sector G-5/1, Islamabad.
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