'Make water footprints a must for industrial project appraisals'

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 18, 2012 Published on July 18, 2012

Industrial projects may have to declare their water footprints to get appraisals and financing if the draft National Water Policy 2012 is approved. 

The third draft of the policy, recommended by the National Water Board in its 14th meeting held in the first week of June, proposes that project appraisal and environment impact assessment for water uses, particularly for industrial projects, should include analysis of water footprints.

Also, project financing should be structured to incentivise the efficient and economic use of water.  

Simply put, a water audit is in the works for industry to ensure that recycling and re-use become the norm.

Cracking down on the rampant misuse of groundwater, the policy proposes to make it ‘public property’ or ‘commons’ in green parlance.

“Water needs to be managed as a common pool community resource held by the State under the public trust doctrine to achieve food security, support livelihood, and ensure equitable and sustainable development for all,” it says.  

But what may raise the hackles of States (water is a State subject) is the proposal for a concurrent mechanism to monitor groundwater use if it leads to “unacceptable depletion” of the water table as well as problems such as salinity and alkalinity. 

On effluent discharge, the policy proposes that industries in water-short regions may be allowed to either withdraw only the make-up water or should be obliged to return treated effluent to a specified standard back to the hydrologic system. 

“Tendencies to unnecessarily use more water within the plant to avoid treatment or to pollute ground water needs to be prevented,” it adds.

To prevent avoidable delays and cost-overruns, the policy favoured time-bound environment and investment clearances of projects, but added that civic bodies such as panchayats and municipalities and water user associations should be involved in project planning.  

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Published on July 18, 2012
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