Ministry preparing new water policy

Kathmandu, January 6

Nepal annually makes use of only 10 per cent of its available water. In this context, the government has set a goal for its further utilisation.

Around 200 billion cubic metres of water is supplied from natural resources and 10 billion cubic metres 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 for proper utilisation of water available here as the issue concerning development and management of water resources is directly linked with the Sustainable Development Goals which is expected to be met by 2030.

Minister of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barshaman Pun said the ministry was working on a draft of the ‘National Water Resource Policy’. He said 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 the three levels.

He added, “We have sufficient water, but unequal distribution is the problem. Water resources are vanishing due to climate change.” He said water must be preserved for our future generation and a new policy is largely addressing the need for conservation and management of water resources.

The draft has prioritised drinking water followed by household consumption. Irrigation, livestock and fishery, hydropower, 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 envisions stopping deforestation, land erosion and control of adverse environmental impact and haphazard mining. The draft also includes measures to conserve watershed areas through cooperation among the bodies concerned.

Its overall focus is on proper use and sustainable management of water resources by protecting natural flora and fauna; natural, cultural and religious heritages and social environment.

The new provision in the draft makes it mandatory to draft project design in line with water resources conservation criteria.