True. Tamil Nadu was awarded first-place under the 'Best State' category in the National Water Awards in 2019.
The website of the Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation under the Ministry of Jal Shakti states that the Ground Water Augmentation Awards and National Water Award were launched in 2007 with an objective to encourage all stakeholders including the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Gram Panchayats, Urban Local Bodies etc. for adopting innovative practices of ground water augmentation by using various techniques and creating awareness through people's participation resulting in sustainability of ground water resources development and adequate capacity building amongst the stakeholders.
Since surface water & ground water are considered integral part of the water cycle, it was deemed necessary to institute the unified National Water Awards (“NWA”) with the objective of encouraging stakeholders to adopt a holistic approach towards water resources management and motivate those who are doing commendable work in the field of water resources conservation and management. The NWA were successfully organized in 2018 and 2019 and the winners in different categories were felicitated with trophies, citations and cash prizes.
Tamil Nadu stood first (among 8 other entries) under the ‘Best State’ Category under the NWA 2019.
The last NWA was launched in September, 2019 and a total of 1,112 valid applications were received by the deadline of 31st December, 2019. NWA 2019 awarded 98 awards to participants across 16 different categories ranging from Best State, Best District, Best Village Panchayat, Best Urban Local Body among others.
As per the Guidelines for the NWA 2019, the evaluation criteria for ‘Best State’ included various parameters focussing on whether the State Water Policy is prepared or revised in accordance with the National Water Policy, 2012; the status of the implementation of State Water Resources Regulatory Authority and water accounting and auditing; implementation of irrigation water supply schemes; State’s performance under micro irrigation and roof top rain water harvesting; increase in irrigation coverage; total number of water bodies created; reuse of waste water from farms/industry/sewage and Management and utilization of Data/IT technology in water conservation/irrigation.
Vellore and Karur districts in Tamil Nadu were awarded first and second spots under the ‘Revival of River’ (among 7 entries) sub-category under the ‘Best District’ category in the South. Perambalur district in Tamil Nadu stood second (among 34 entries) under the ‘Water Conservation’ sub-category under the ‘Best District’ category in the South. Sasthavinathur Village Panchayat in the Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu stood first (among 80 entries) under the ‘Best Village Panchayat’ category in the South. The Madurai Municipal Corporation in Tamil Nadu stood second (among 56 entries) in the ‘Best Urban Local Body’ category. Individuals and companies from Tamil Nadu took the top 3 spots among 115 entries under the ‘Best Research/Innovation/ adaptation of New Technology for Water Conservation’ category and the top 2 spots under the ‘Best Water Warrior’ category in the South.
The New Indian Express reported that the proposal submitted by the Government for the NWA 2019 highlighted the achievements in water conservation initiatives being implemented with community participation, the Kudimaramath scheme aimed at increasing the storage level of water bodies while being beneficial to the farmers, renovation of major water courses in the State, creation of groundwater recharge structures in large numbers, ongoing works for constructing check dams etc.
It also reported that the ongoing flood mitigation works to avoid damages during the monsoon periods, measures to check sea-water intrusion in coastal areas, implementation of new schemes, steps taken for rehabilitation of major dams, progress made in Tamil Nadu Water Resources Conservation and Augmentation Mission, how the groundwater table in the State has gone up due to these measures, improvements and achievements made in micro-irrigation scheme, awareness programmes about water conservation, creation of farm ponds etc., were also highlighted in the said proposal.
Finally, it was reported that the key achievements of the Tamil Nadu state government in water conservation and improvement areas include renovation of 6,278 water resources at a cost of Rs 1,433 crore through the Kudimaramath scheme, distribution of nutrient soil removed from these water bodies to 6.69 lakh farmers, allocation of Rs 1,000 crore constructing check dams, implementation of the Tamil Nadu Water Resources Conservation and Augmentation Mission, Nadanthai Vazhi Cauvery scheme to renovate Cauvery river and its subsidiaries, Cauvery-Gundar linking project and allocation of Rs.700 crore in the first phase, desilting of water bodies in Delta areas (Rs. 130.20 crore), Athikadavu-Avinashi Scheme (Rs. 1,652 crore), Sarabanga Lift Irrigation Project (Rs.565 crore), renovation and modernisation of watercourses at a total cost of Rs. 750 crore, construction of barrages across Coleroon river at Adhanur (Rs. 494.60 crore), at Mukkombu (Rs. 387 crore) and at Pugalur (Rs. 406.50 crore), creation of 10,000 farm ponds, among others.
Based on the above, it is evident that Tamil Nadu is one of the best performing States in water resource management in India. However, it should be noted that it has won this title based on the voluntary entries received by the Government and an analytical exercise covering the entire country.