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Odisha's Rank In NITI Aayog's Composite Water Management Index Raises Concern

21 August 2019

Debashish Maharana

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Bhubaneswar: The Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by NITI Aayog in 2018 says that an impending water crisis of a scale never seen before in India is predicted by 2020.

This would mean that 21 cities around the country were heading toward Zero Water Day as early as in 2020. The NITI Aayog report had painted a rather grim scenario. It noted that the crisis next year would impact water access for 100 million people.

Amidst this scenario, the situation is no good in Odisha. The State has dropped by four positions in the NITI Aayog list of States based on CWMI report. In the 2016-17 report, Odisha ranked 9, while in the 2018 CWMI report, Odisha's rank slipped to 13.

The CWMI report made the Department of Water Resources to sound an alert. The Department has called for an inter-departmental meeting on August 26, to discuss on action which needs to be taken for improving water management in Odisha.

"Action needs to be taken by the stake-holding departments to improve the performance of Odisha at National level. Hence, it is proposed to hold a meeting under the Chairmanship of Principal Secretary of DoWR to discuss the modalities to improve the Composite Water Mangement Index of the State in future years," a letter issued by the Special Secretary of Department of Water Resources stated.

On the other hand, senior MLA Pratap Deb held the Centre responsible for Odisha's performance in the CWMI rankings. "It is easy to point fingers at us. But the Centre should make a note of how much funds it has given to Odisha for water mangement? From the past five years, how much money has been allocated for Odisha in irrigation and water conservation sectors, this needs to be analysed," he said.

It may be noted that the aforementioned index has a set of 28 key performance indicators covering irrigation status, drinking water and other usage of water by different departments of the State.

Critical areas such as source augmentation including development of water bodies, major and medium irrigation, watershed development, participatory irrigation practices, sustainable on-farm water use practices, rural and urban drinking water supply and sanitation, policy and governance have been accorded high priority.

BJP Leader Prithviraj Harichandan said that natural water resources are in abundance in Odisha and its rank is second after Uttar Pradesh. "But we have not been able to effectively utilise the water resources which we have."

Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik said that Odisha has not been able to do noteworthy work in irrigation sector over the past 20 years. "We have not been able to invest good amount of money and develop our irrigation infrastructure as compared to other States."

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Pratap Deb, BJD MLA

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Prithviraj Harichandan, BJP Leader, Odisha

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Niranjan Patnaik, PCC President, Odisha