Jal Shakti (Water) Minister Shekhawat reviews World Bank-backed National Hydrology Project

New Delhi: A review of the National Hydrology Project (a World Bank-supported initiative of the Ministry of Jal Shakti) was carried out by Minister of Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, and Minister of State (MoS), Rattan Lal Kataria, on Wednesday,16th December, according to a press note from Ministry of Jal Shakti (Water Resources). The National Hydrology Project (NHP) was started in the year 2016 as a Central Sector Scheme with 100% grant to implementing agencies on pan India basis with a budget outlay of Rs. 3,680 crore to be spent over a period of 8 years. The project aims at improving the extent, reliability, and accessibility of water resources information and to strengthen the capacity of targeted water resource management institutions in India. Thus, NHP is facilitating the acquisition of reliable information efficiently which would pave the way for an effective water resource development and management, the Ministry said.

The Jal Shakti Ministry stated that the Project, in its mid-term, has made significant progress in the fields of water resource monitoring systems, water resource information systems (WRIS), water resource operation and planning systems, and institutional capacity enhancement. Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat shared that under the NHP, a nationwide repository of water resources data – NWIC – has been established. NHP is focusing on establishment of real time data acquisition system (RTDAS) on pan-India basis. So far, contracts for the establishment of 6,500 real time hydro-meteorological (meteorological – measuring rainfall and other weather parameters and hydrological – measuring water level and discharge) stations have been awarded, out of which 1,900 stations have been installed which will shortly be contributing data to the centralised database.

The real-time data acquisition system, the near real-time data acquisition system, and the manual data acquisition stations will complement each other and lay a strong foundation for informed decision making for better water resources management. All such data will be available through web-enabled India WRIS which is being upscaled under the NHP, said Jal Shakti Ministry.

The major success has been bringing all the states on board for sharing of water resources data on a centralised platform – a task hitherto left unaccomplished by previous Governments, the Minister said. He stated that through the NHP, the management of water resources shall witness a sea-change since it will adopt an integrated approach and make use of cutting edge technology.

Water Resources Minister Shekhawat mentioned that the analytical tools and knowledge products being developed under the NHP such as streamflow forecasting with a long lead time of four weeks, upscaling of flood forecasting to include inundation mapping, sediment transport modelling, a framework for water resources assessment, reservoir optimisation, glacial lake atlas, and web-enabled GIS-based spring inventories have the capability of instilling a paradigm shift in the way water resources are being managed. Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems are being installed on selected projects for the automation of the water release process based upon real-time data. Water Minister Shekhawat directed authorities to share the works carried out under NHP in the public domain and encouraged academia, universities, and research institutes globally to contribute towards this initiative. Simultaneously, he stressed upon the need to further improve the water resources dissemination platform, India-WRIS (Water Resources Information System), to take care of the requirements and aspirations of various stakeholders.

Minister of State of Jal Shakti, Rattan Lal Kataria, termed the NHP as a project of national importance since it establishes a nationwide, ‘nodal’, ‘one-point’ platform for all states to collaborate and share data pertaining to water resources. He stated that collecting data from scattered agencies posed a major bottleneck in effective water resource management and also a stumbling block in important policy-level decision making. Acknowledging the progress made in data collection, he stated that since the initiation of NHP, 12,273 surface water stations have been mapped in the Water Resources Information System compared to 878 in the year 2016. In addition, within a span of 4 years, 70,525 groundwater stations have also started sharing data, he said.

Pointing to the lackadaisical approach of previous Governments, he stated that data is a valuable resource and lack of interest shown by previous Governments has resulted in unavailability of reliable historic data. A lot of data-driven developments are expected to follow naturally over the course of time in the government as well as the private sectors and academic and research institutions, that hold the potential of transforming the water sector of the country from an age-old, experience-based system depending largely on personal judgement to an optimised, transparent system where it is possible to holistically assess the impact of decisions across the sectors in advance before they are actually made.

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The ID Staff

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