Friday, April 5, 2013

Latest on National Water Policy of India.

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Forwarding for your interest a latest news from the National Water Resources Council meeting.  From the discussions of the Chief Ministers of the quoted states you can find out how states are really waking up to water scarcity and other issues.  Odisha had also raised its apprehensions about the Water Framework Law.  

WIO has been actively participating in debates and processes at national level on the water policy and I can tell you that the Central Government is trying hard to push through a law to encroach upon the rights of the states.  The butter quoted law, if at all it comes, is certainly going to restrict the rights of the states.  Further, the national water policy is opening the floodgates for private capital to come into water sector and deprive people and democratic institutions from their due say and control over decision making.  There are several other dangers in the policy.  We had raised and registered our objections to the first draft of the policy.  The government has considered some of our suggestions.  However, a lot needs to be done still. 

Our debate and actions on the National Water Policy are on; and we shall keep you updated.  If you want to join, please get back to us at

Thanks and regards,



States adopt latest National Water Policy

Pti : New Delhi | Apr 05, 2013

Earlier the states had expressed apprehensions over the proposed national legal framework on water resources. However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to allay fears by saying the Centre has no intention to encroach their rights on water management.

See what the states have to say about the new water policy.

Maha demands planning of basins to deal with water shortages

Maharashtra: Faced with water shortages, Maharashtra today demanded planning of basins or sub-basins on the basis of average annual water availability after factoring in limitations put in by awards of river dispute tribunals.
Addressing the meeting of the National Water Resources Council, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said almost 80 per cent of Maharashtra was rainfed and the projected irrigation potential was not beyond 30 per cent of the total area.

"To overcome the natural handicaps in the availability of water, we are proposing the planning of basins/sub-basins on the basis of the average annual water availability – subject of course to limitations put in by the awards of the river water dispute tribunals," he said.

Chavan said it would be helpful if this requirement of water short basins could be covered by appropriate wording in the National Water Policy.

He supported the provisions in the policy to keep aside a portion of river flows to meet the ecological needs ensuring that the low and high flow releases are proportional to the natural flow regime, including base flow contribution in the low flow season through regulated ground water use.

Chavan also sought financial support for urban bodies and public institutions on recycling and reuse of water as also for installation of electronic meters in almost a crore urban households.

"The local bodies or the consumers may not be able to defray such costs on their own. Here again, we request the Government of India to consider an appropriate package to meet such new evolving needs," he said.
Chavan said additional cost of transporting water from distant sources for supply to semi-arid regions need to be supported so that local communities are not burdened.

KTK demands permanent water dispute tribunal

Karnataka: Amid disputes between states over water-sharing, Karnataka today demanded setting up of a permanent water dispute tribunal in the Supreme Court and revisiting the Inter State Water Disputes Act to remove "loose ends" in the legislation.

"Permanent water dispute tribunal should be established in the Apex Court and its benches at all the States' High Courts on the lines of the Green Bench," Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said in his speech at the sixth meeting of the national water resources council here.

He suggested that it should have a sitting Supreme Court judge as its chairperson with multi-members from technical, environmental, geological, economical and legal fields.

 Noting that present laws "create more disputes because of several loose ends" in the existing Acts, Shettar said that Inter State Water Disputes Act should be revisited.

"None of the present laws are able to establish a just water regime to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders," he said.

Without referring to Cauvery water sharing dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Shettar said in some cases Government of India stand has delayed the projects which can be otherwise.

"The absence of a water regime had been forcing us to go to the Supreme Court, by which Government of India is trying to absolve its conciliatory role which is prescribed by the Indian Constitution, which is an expected role being the Head of the federal structure, which need to be strongly established," he said.

Shettar said he made this statement because Karnataka "as a mid and upper riparian state suffered in both utilization and construction of projects which resulted in depriving the people of Karnataka their due and legal right of their share of water." Centre should leave law making to states: Akhilesh on water law
Uttar Pradesh: Opposing a proposal in the National Water Policy to create an over-arching law on water management, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today said the Centre should restrict itself to deciding on the principles of such a framework and leave law making to states.

"While the UP government agrees to most of the proposals (in the draft Water Policy), the proposal to create a law on water is a sensitive issue. Water is a state subject according to the Constitution and states have a right to formulate policies keeping in mind their special needs," he said.

Yadav's speech was read out in absentia by state PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav.

He said it would be better if the Centre only formulates the basic directive principles for creating such a law.
The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister also cautioned that any amendment to the Indian Easement Act, 1882 should be made after discussions with various stakeholders keeping in mind the social scenario in the country.

"Existing Acts, such as Indian Easements Act, 1882, Irrigation Acts, may have to be modified accordingly in as much as it appears to give proprietary rights to a land owner on groundwater under his/her land," the draft National Water Policy says.

Yadav lamented the long time taken in approving flood control schemes and said the present one year period should be curtailed.

"The entire amount for flood control projects should be released to the states in one go," he said.

He also demanded intervention of the Centre so that Pancheshwar, Nemure and Karnali dams in neighbouring Nepal could be constructed at the earliest to prevent floods in the state.

Badal opposes water regulatory authority

Punjab: Opposing establishment of a water regulatory authority, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said that any revision in the national water policy should be based on the existing constitutional provisions and universally accepted riparian principles.

Participating in the deliberations at the 6th meeting of the National Water Resources Council chaired by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here, Badal said water was a state subject under the Constitution and the states have exclusive power of legislation on it.

Expressing strong reservations over the establishment of a water tariff system and a water regulatory authority under the draft National Water Policy-2012, the Chief Minister opposed the move, saying these should be left to the states for taking appropriate decision.

Badal asserted that Punjab being an agrarian state was opposed to the concept of integrated planning and management of river basins and setting up of basin authorities by legislation.

"Without prejudice to our consistent stand on riparian rights, principles of equitable distribution of water should be well-defined," he said, adding that existing usage and future needs of water of a state be protected as otherwise it would directly affect the growth of the state.

The Chief Minister said water was a critical issue and tragic conflicts in the country were a result of mishandling of this sensitive issue.

He lamented that a major part of 'Punjab tragedy', for which the entire country had to pay a big price, was due to the Centre's refusal to address the river waters issue along just and internationally and nationally accepted riparian principle.

"This is one of the many areas where our decision makers in New Delhi must show greater sensitivity, statesmanship and farsightedness in handling critical issues such as water," Badal said.

Badal said the distribution of powers under the federal structure of the Constitution should in no case be tinkered with by making changes in frame work of existing laws, and added that each state has its own consideration in planning, management and use of its water resources.

He said the contribution made by each basin state to the catchment area of a river should be the main criteria for apportionment of water.

Citing the Irrigation Commission Report, 1972, which observed that the drainage area of Punjab in the Indus basin is three times that of Rajasthan and five times that of Haryana, Badal rued that yet Punjab was allocated only about 25 per cent share in Ravi-Beas waters as Rajasthan and Haryana were allocated about 50 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.

Alleging direct infringement on the freedom of states by way of imposing any integrated water resources management for the basin as a whole or sub-basin, Badal said such purported move would deprive states from their legitimate rights to plan, formulate and execute water supply schemes as per their needs.

Any integrated water management plan would lead to more conflicts among states, he said.

On subsidised irrigation to Punjab farmers, he said it was primarily done to compensate farmers to some extent keeping in view their contribution in making India self-reliant in food production, noting the price of agri produce was fixed in an "arbitrary" manner rendering it "unremunerative".

He said it is known that farming all over the world was subsidised to enable farmers achieve sustainability and survival essential for ensuring national food security.

 Badal also stressed on the point that hard work of state's farmers helped in making a major contribution (over 50 per cent) to the National Food Pool.

He regretted that state's water resources were grossly inadequate and with its surface water resources fully utilised, there was great strain on ground water which was over- exploited resulting in its depletion.

Water conservation: Haryana for setting up of national fund

Haryana: Asking National Water Resources Council to deliberate on modalities for resolving inter-state water-related issues, Haryana today advocated setting up of a national fund to promote measures for conservation of water.

Haryana also rejected Punjab's suggestion that neighbouring states sharing river waters should also share the cost of flood management.

At the 6th Council meeting here, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said Haryana has suffered in this regard as it neither got water from Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal despite Supreme Court orders nor did it get its share in Ravi-Beas waters, as its tribunal's final award has not been published.

On his Punjab counterpart Parkash Singh Badal's suggestion made yesterday that neighbouring states should share flood management expenses and cost of repair of flood damage, Hooda rejected the demand as "absurd" and said each state has to deal with its floods and other calamities.

Hooda lamented that Punjab enacted a law terminating water related agreements and the Centre has allowed the Presidential Reference on it to linger on for more than eight years. "This is unfair to the people of Haryana. The people of Haryana have several other grievances also," he said.

He welcomed the proposal to set up a permanent Water Disputes Tribunal at the centre to resolve disputes, but sought timely implementation of orders/directions of various tribunals and courts in this regard.

Welcoming the proposal to constitute River Basin authorities, Hooda said representation should not be made only from those states which have only nominal area in the basin.

The Haryana Chief Minister also welcomed the setting up of Water Regulatory authorities.

Hooda urged the Prime Minister to intervene in the matter, so that major contributors to the national food basket are not put to any disadvantage on this account.

He also called for convening more such meetings of the Water Resources Council and lamented that important issues pertaining to inter-state disputes had not even been listed for discussion.

Citing international practices on use of sprinkling methods for conserving water, he said the Government should consider giving incentives for adopting efficient water technologies.

The Haryana Chief Minister also talked about its share in the Ravi and Beas rivers, but lamented that it has been denied its share in power generated from Thein Dam constructed on the Ravi.

"We have been raising this issue at various forums, but there is no resolution yet," he said.


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