Centre wants water resources moved to Concurrent List

14 January 2017

The centre is discussing the issue of bringing water under the Concurrent List with states so as to minimise the disparity in allocation of water resources among states, union minister for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation Uma Bharti has said.

The Constitution provides for separate legislative powers of the centre and the states and a Concurrent List that is decided by both the centre and the states.

Inaugurating the Jal Manthan-III in New Delhi on Friday she said her ministry is also seriously working on new acts for water use and Ganga.

Deliberating on various issues related to water resources management, the minister said water user associations are not performing up to the mark in some states and wanted NGOs to take up the matter.

''We may have to take active help from NGOs to strengthen these associations as active and performing water user associations are very important for the success of AIBP-PMKSY''. Underlying the need for peoples participation in water resources management the minister said there is a need to convert Jal Kranti into Jan Kranti.

Referring to inter-linking of rivers the minister said her ministry is trying its best to convert the funding pattern of Ken-Betwa Phase-I link from 60:40 to 90:10. She said the ministry is hopeful of starting the project in the first quarter of this year itself. The minister said the project will be completed within seven years.

The minister also referred to Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga-Mahanadi-Godawari link and called it as ''Mother link'' of inter-linking of rivers in the country.

Terming opposition to the project of a section of the people in a particular state as politically motivated, she said the successful completion of this link would help solve the drought and flood problems of the states of West-Bengal, Bihar and Odisha to a great extent.

Bharti said the Damanganga-Pinjal link will be able to meet the drinking water needs of Mumbai up to the year 2060. She also referred to Par-Tapi link and said that on completion this link would help meet the drinking water needs of rural tribals of the area.

Minister of state for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan, called for more attention to waste water management. He said a large amount of water is wasted in the country and proper management of the same will result into saving of this precious natural wealth.

Another minister of state for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, Vijay Goel, said that there is an urgent need to conserve water for future generations. He said it did not occur to us that this natural resource which was available in abundance could become scarce in future.

Secretary in the ministry Amarjeet Singh referred to the need of common pooling of water resources by farmers. He calledfor fixing accountability of water use to stop its wastage. He said there an urgent need to develop a culture to understand the important of water conservation.  

The daylong event was organised by the water resources ministry with a view to have wider consultations among various stakeholders to brain-storm new ideas for solutions to various issues of water sector.

About 700 participants comprising irrigation/ water resources ministers of states/UTs, eminent experts in water sector, representatives of NGOs and senior officers of the central and state governments had consultations and discussions on Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, River Basin Management, River Rejuvenation and Ecology, flood management, water use efficiency and participatory irrigation management. The focus was on refining policies of the ministry to make them more people friendly and responsive to the needs of the states.

The centre has for long been arguing for a shift of water to the Concurrent List without any serious expectation of its happening, but has now begun to pursue the idea more actively.

The Ashok Chawla committee, which looked into the issue of rationalising the allocation of natural resources with a view to reducing the scope for corruption, was reported to have recommended inter alia the shifting of water to the Concurrent List. While there was no such specific recommendation in the draft of the committee's report, the possibility has been referred to in the text and there is an annexe on the subject that could have revived the old debate.

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