The term "Sustainable Water Management" deals with sustainability and management. What constitutes a basic need is perhaps the  greatest challenge to adopting sustainable practices in our daily lives, as interpretations of need vary widely from region to region, village to village and even from person to person. The idea is to allocate the resources in such a way as for all, including the environment, to have an adequate share without making any one group worst off, both now and in the future.

                   Management deals with understanding the need of the stakeholders as well as the possibilities and limitations of the resource, is needed to mange it effectively. This requires sharing both indigenous and modern scientific knowledge, as well as establishing a dialogue between individuals and large institutions.

                   Simply speaking, water management is to manage our water resources and while taking into account the present and future users. Since the Mar del Plata Water Conference in 1977, sustainable water management has been on the international agenda and it is based on understanding:

(i)               Freshwater is a valuable resource and essential to sustain life, the environment and development.

(ii)            The development and management of our water resources should be based on a participatory approach involving users, planners and policy makers at all levels.

(iii)          Women play a central role in the provision, management and safeguarding of water resources.

(iv)         Water has an economic value and therefore should be seen as an economic good.

           Rapid population growth, urbanization and industrialization will lead to a greater demand for an increasingly  supply of water resources in this region.  No where in the world, the population growth and poverty play such an effective role in water resource issues as in India.

              We must understand, in the case of South Asia, poverty and reduced access to safe water resources has limited the ability of the poor to improve their situation, which has only served to perpetuate the poverty cycle especially among rural populations and women.

              In India, the main issues are how to manage the country's rapid economic growth with the need to ensure equitable distribution to all sectors, in particular the urban and rural drinking water supply. Inadequate policy and regulation, combined with a non-transparent and non-participatory process, is at the root of many of the water management problems plaguing our country.

              Most of the current policies still encourage developing supplies of water resources rather than encouraging demand management. The need of the hour is to implement conservation measures such as reduced wastage and leakage, demand regulations, low-flow technologies, wasterwater reclamation and reuse etc.  and making schemes for using the rain water from being wasted. For example, there are always floods in Assam, Bengal and Bihar . Why this water cannot be harvested for the good of the people in the rest of the country. There is a direct link between health and the quality of the water.

              Currently, on average, each Indian citizen consumes 500 cubic meters of water per year.  India with its based population growth will need to divert 667 cubic kilometers of water per year to meet its demand. The problem in India of water management is more acute and it is a problem of uneven distribution. The South and West of India are relatively arid, whereas North and East of India enjoy abundant supplies of water.

              India's green and prosperous future will require education, infrastructure, innovation, pluralism and enlightened, adaptable environmentalism.

               Large chunk of our country by 2025 may have absolute water scarcity as parts of Sub-Saharan Africa do now.  It is an irony of fate that on the one hand, nearly one-third of the country is drought-prone and on the other, a quarter faces regular flooding.  India is one of the most groundwater dependent countries in the world and government subsidised overuse is leading to a rapid depletion of this highly precious resource. More than 70% of the rural users and 30-35% of urban dwellers pump out their own water from tubewells, without much regulation. As a matter of fact, we do not have a water management policy in this country nor these can be managed by political consideration. It needs a scientific understanding of the issues.

              There are threats to the fresh water from climate change, depletion of aquifers, pollution and water protection.

              I am glad that Chandigarh Chapter of Asia Pacific Jurists Association has organized this Seminar highlighting such an important issue and has invited Hon'ble Justice Dr. Arijit Pasayat, Judge of the Supreme Court of India, who has contributed a lot in protecting environmental degradation as well as issues of great concern in the realm of water management, though his illuminating judgments, as a key note speaker.