Editorial 1: The distribution and utilisation of water bodies in India


A government report released last week has thrown light on the number of water bodies in India and what they are used for. The document, which was released by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, is the first such census of water bodies in India.

Data on waterbodies

  1. Water bodies  are defined as any natural or man-made structures used for storing water for various purposes, such as irrigation, industry, fish farming, domestic use, recreation, religious activities, and groundwater recharge. They are classified as tanks, reservoirs and ponds.
  • Ponds > tanks > reservoirs > water conservation projects > lakes 
  • West Bengal boasts of the highest number of ponds and reservoirs; Andhra Pradesh the highest number of tanks; and Tamil Nadu the highest number of lakes. Maharashtra leads in terms of water conservation initiatives.
  • The majority of water bodies serve as resources for fish farming, with their subsequent uses including irrigation, replenishing groundwater, and providing water for household and drinking needs.
  • Among the total utilised water bodies, 55.5% are dedicated to fish farming, 16.5% to irrigation, 12.1%  to groundwater replenishment, and 10.1% to domestic and drinking water needs. The remaining are employed for recreational, industrial, religious and other purposes..
  • A substantial 97.1% of water bodies can be found in rural regions; only 2.9% are situated in urban areas and 78% of water bodies are artificially created as per data.

Conservation of Water Resources

  • With the declining availability of fresh water and increasing demand, the need has arisen to conserve and effectively manage this precious life giving resource for sustainable development. This can be achieved through
  1. Preventing water pollution
  2. Recycling and Reusing of water
  3. Using  Sprinklers and drip irrigation techniques in agriculture
  4. Rainwater Harvesting
  5. Watershed management  
  6. Checking  desalinisation of water by transfer of water from water surplus areas to water deficit areas through inter linking of rivers

India’s policy framework

  1. National Water Policy (2012): formulated by Department of Water Resources, , which advocates rainwater harvesting and conservation of water
  2. Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) constituted under “Environment (Protection) Act, 1986” for the purpose of regulation and control of ground water development and management.
  3. The ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan
  4. Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY)
  5. Mass awareness programmes

Way forward

  • A new water revolution is needed to preserve, harness, develop and manage water resources keeping in view both their quantity and quality.
  • For sustainable development of freshwater resources, it would be important to enable individuals and communities to appreciate their options, evaluate them and then choose the one that is the most appropriate.
  • Water is a major factor in each of the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental.
  • India has to initiate a series of measures to ensure that her people have access to clean water and sanitation, there is food security, and there are no water related conflicts. Water must meet the needs of the present population and those of future generations.

Editorial 2: The ambiguities in the nuclear liability law


  • The issues regarding India’s nuclear liability law continue to hold up the more than a decade-old plan to build six nuclear power reactors in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur, the world’s biggest nuclear power generation site under consideration at present.

Law  governing nuclear liability in India

  • Laws on civil nuclear liability ensure that compensation is available to the victims for nuclear damage caused by a nuclear incident or disaster and set out who will be liable for those damages. The international nuclear liability regime consists of multiple treaties and was strengthened after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.
  1. Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC): It was adopted in 1997 with the aim of establishing a minimum national compensation amount. Even though India is a signatory to the CSC  ratified  in 2016.
  2. Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA): To keep in line with the international convention, India enacted it in 2010, to put in place a speedy compensation mechanism for victims of a nuclear accident. The CLNDA provides for strict and no-fault liability on the operator of the nuclear plant, where it will be held liable for damage regardless of any fault on its part.
  • India currently has 22 nuclear reactors with over a dozen more projects planned. All the existing reactors are operated by the state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

CLNDA law on supplier liability

  • The international legal framework on civil nuclear liability, including the annex of the CSC is based on the central principle of exclusive liability of the operator of a nuclear installation and no other person.
  •  In the initial stages of the nuclear industry’s development, foreign governments and the industry agreed that excessive liability claims against suppliers of nuclear equipment would make their business unviable and hinder the growth of nuclear energy, and it became an accepted practice for national laws of countries to channel nuclear liability to the operators of the plant with only some exceptions.
  • Two other points of rationale were also stated while accepting the exclusive operator liability principle — one was to avoid legal complications in establishing separate liability in each case and the second was to make just one entity in the chain, that is the operator to take out insurance, instead of having suppliers, construction contractors and so on take out their own insurance.

Issue with Supplier liability clause

  1. Foreign suppliers of nuclear equipment from countries as well as domestic suppliers have been wary of operationalising nuclear deals with India as it has the only law where suppliers can be asked to pay damages
  2. Concerns about potentially getting exposed to unlimited liability under the CLNDA and ambiguity over how much insurance to set aside in case of damage claims have been sticking points for suppliers.
  3. The latter clause goes against the Act’s central purpose of serving as a special mechanism enforcing the channelling of liability to the operator to ensure prompt compensation for victims.
  4. In the absence of a comprehensive definition on the types of ‘nuclear damage’ being notified by the Central Government the clause potentially exposes suppliers to unlimited amounts of liability.

Government’s stand

  • The central government has maintained that the Indian law is in consonance with the CSC. Further it states  that the provision “permits” but “does not require” an operator to include in the contract or exercise the right to recourse.

Way forward

  • Thus, we see though India is at par with other nuclear capable countries when it comes to having a comprehensive law dealing with damages for nuclear disasters but there are many loopholes to be plucked.
  • The law in our country must present a more effective mechanism when it comes to dealing with issues enumerated above. Along with solving the ambiguities present an attempt must be made to have a fine balance of the aspirations of suppliers, the state and the civil society.


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