Development projects are required to get certification of compliance with water resources conservation criteria as per the ‘Water Resources Policy’ before it proceeds with the construction of the project.
The proposed policy draft has set criteria for the maintenance of water resources and greenery when the construction of road and infrastructure takes place at federal, provincial, and local levels.
The policy has a provision needing clarification if the design of any development project has complied with the ‘Water Resources Policy’. The development project should get the certification which states that the project’s design complies with the conservation criteria.
The policy is aimed at protecting water-based organisms, flora, natural environment, religious and cultural sites, and social environment by conserving the underground restorable water resources areas for sustainable management of water resources.
Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Barsaman Pun has directed the Water and Energy Commission Secretariat to table the amended draft of the Water Resources Policy within two weeks.
During a discussion on the policy organized at the ministry on Sunday, Minister Pun asked the secretariat to make necessary edits and submit the draft to the ministry.
Pun stressed on the need to conserve water resources, stating that water was the base for Nepal’s prosperity. He said water was one of the important natural sources available in the country. “With the new constitution in place, old policy is not enough. A balance between all three tiers of government — federal, provincial and local levels — is necessary. We have sufficient water resources but not in the places where it is needed. Because of climate change, water is not available where we could find in the past,” he said.
“Likewise, there might not be water where we find today. This generation should conserve water for the coming generation,” the minister added. “The new policy is necessary for the conservation of water.”
A total of 200 billion cubic meters of water from different rivers and 10 billion cubic meters from underground sources is available in Nepal annually. But only 10% of the available water is in use. According to the ministry, the new policy is required as the development and management of water resources is directly related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals that is aimed to be achieved by 2030.
According to the proposed policy, water resources are used for drinking and household purposes followed by irrigation, water transportation, religious, cultural or environmental conservation, entertainment, and tourism. The coordination between stakeholders and related bodies for the extraction of sand, gravel and rocks that impact the environment is also mentioned in the policy.
According to Pun, the policy will be ratified in the upcoming session of parliament.