NITI Aayog’s CWMI August 2019 released: Tripura tops in Water Management

Abhijit Nath

NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) released its Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) August 2019 of different non-himalayan, northeastern and Himalayan states and union territories where Tripura achieved top position in the diverse indexes among eight northeastern states of India along with Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarkhand.

NITI Aayog in association with Ministry of Jal Shakti and Ministry of Rural Development released this report of CWMI August 2019. In a first-of-its-kind endeavour towards Jal Sanchay, Jal Sanrakshan and Jal Sinchan, this index was developed by the Aayog where a policy shift in water resources management, from the conventional style of investment in major infrastructure projects, to undertaking grass-root level activities with participation of local communities which could ensure equitable access of water were proposed. This index report ranks various states for the reference year 2017-18 as against the base year 2016-17. NITI Aayog first launched and conceptualized the CWMI in 2018 as a tool to instill the sense of cooperative and competitive federalism among the states.

For the CWMI, states were divided into three special groups: non-Himalayan states, North-Eastern and Himalayan states, and Union Territories (UTs) to account for the different hydrological conditions across these groups. The northeastern and himalayan states include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand. The non-himalayan states include Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. The union territories include Delhi and Puducherry. While data of Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram and West Bengal states, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep union territories are not available in the index.

Extracting the details and data from a PDF of 239 pages of the Composite Water Management Index – August 2019, TRIPURA OBSERVER highlighted the report of Tripura which had acquired the top rank along with other few states in several noteworthy areas of Irrigation utilization and Operation & Maintenance, On-farm water use, and urban water. However, this state also had deficiencies which need to be addressed effectively and those include- Surface water restoration, Participatory irrigation and Wastewater treatment.

In the overview of Tripura’s CWMI performance, Tripura utilizes 65% of its irrigation potential, it has assessed 100% project for IPU-IPC gaps, it also has above average operation and maintenance expenditure, the state has 100% agro-climatic zoning based cultivation and highest micro irrigation adoption at 23% in its category, It also have close to 100% urban population which is covered under drinking water and 40% of them are charged. However, the state has not restored any of the irrigation potential of identified water bodies. The state has not established a framework for involving Water User Associations in operation and maintenance, and the wastewater treatment capacity is below 25%.

Mentioning about certain data, the CWMI reported that Tripura had been provisioned for segregated power feeders it did not provide details on the area covered with segregated power feeders. The Aquifer mapping which is widely monitored by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), found that Tripura have not identified any areafor mapping and recharging ground water. The state also did not have relevant data on area covered with infrastructure.

Tripura had declared that it has no critical or over-exploited groundwater units, and thus had not been scored source augmentation (Groundwater) theme. This state also reported that there are no villages that are being provided with 24x7 piped water supplies. It is also reported that there are no villages in Tripura having individual household meters, report added.

Although, 80 percent of the states i.e. 19 out of 24 have shown improvement in their water management scores over the last three financial years between 15-16 and 17-18, but 5 states reported a decline in performance and this includes 4 non-Himalayan states and 1 North-Eastern state. Odisha reported the largest decline of 7.27 points, followed by Tripura which reported a decline of 4.27 points.

Tripura ranks the top performer in terms of major and medium irrigation (MMI) assets that have been assessed and identified for the IPC-IPU gap in a state, as well as the contextual indicator of the total number of MMI assets in a state. While this state also ranked the bottom performer in regards to Source augmentation and restoration of water bodies which defined that state actions towards the restoration of surface water bodies such as rivers, ponds, and tanks, which boosts irrigation potential of a region by reducing seasonal variations in water availability.

Source Augmentation (Groundwater) theme is not applicable to 9 states including Tripura as they have been reported having no over-exploited or critical groundwater units. Tripura also marked as bottom performer in terms of measuring the percentage of the suitable length of canals and distribution networks that the states have lined. Canal lining involves adding an impermeable layer to the edges to reduce seepage losses, make maintenance easier, and increase water output discharge rates.

Overall, states achieved lower targets for constructing/rejuvenating water harvesting structures compared to previous years. The overall median for the indicator declined from 78% in FY 15-17 to 74% in FY 17-18, respectively. However, sharp decline in case of few states contributed to the lower average which are Meghalaya, Punjab, Tripura, and Kerala, reported decline of greater than 20 percentage points.

Similar to last year, 80% states and UTs have notified a legal framework for involving WUAs in participatory irrigation management. 20 out of 25 reporting states and UTs reported having a framework in place, while only Haryana, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Tripura and Puducherry are yet to institute such a framework.

Amongst the 10 states that have segregated power feeders, 5 states—Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh—have achieved feeder segregation in 90% of the area or more, whereas Tripura and Karnataka have quite low coverage. Tripura recorded the reduction in the percentage of households facing water quality problems (Arsenic and Fluoride problems) to glean the improvement in water quality for rural areas. Hence there is no further scope of reduction. Amongst the North-Eastern and Himalayan states, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, and Tripura have established integrated water data centres, and regular data updates are a practice in Himachal Pradesh and Tripura.