Draft national water framework bill hopes to tackle conflict over water

Bill recommends river basin authority for each inter-state river basin

GN Bureau | October 14, 2016


#National Water Framework Bill 2016   #Tamil Nadu   #Karnataka   #Cauvery River   #Water sharing  
Draft national water framework bill hopes to tackle conflict over water
Photo: Wikipedia CC

States of Tamil Nadu andTamil Nadu have been in conflict over Cauvery water sharing. In September, the conflict turned violent which led to disruption of daily life in Bengaluru. 

Seeking to resolve several inter-state disputes over river water sharing, the government has prepared a draft National Water Framework Bill, 2016.  The draft bill talks about sharing the river water by states without violating rights of others. Water pricing and regulators, water as right, drought management, flood management, water quality and water conservation are other areas that the bill covers.
The bill will work as a model bill for the states, giving them a framework to come out with laws to use and conserve water. The bill will go to the union cabinet for approval. The ministry of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation has sought comment and suggestions on the bill. One can send comments on jspp-mowr@nic.in or sjcpp-mowr@nic.in
 
 Here’s what the bill says about water sharing and conflicts:
  • None of the states in a river-basin owns the river but as public trustees of the water resources of the river, all of them have rights to use the water of the river: Provided that such use does not violate the right to water for life of any person in the river basin.
  •  All basin states in a river system are equal in rights and status, and there is no hierarchy of rights among them, and further, in this context, equality of rights means not equal but equitable shares in the river waters.
  • Centre should provide for River Basin Authority for each inter-state river basin or for a sub-basin of sub inter-sate river basin wherever appropriate, for optimum and sustainable development of the inter-state rivers   and   river   valleys.
  •  Each river basin authority should prepare a master plan for the basin under its jurisdiction   
  •  The upper basin state shall adopt a cautious and minimalist approach to major interventions in inter-state rivers; provide advance information to the 25 lower basin states about plans for intervention; consult them at all stages on possible impacts; and take care to avoid significant harm or injury to them.
  • In an inter-state river system, all basin states shall cooperate in good faith in the equitable, prudent and holistic use of the river waters for the benefit of all.
  •  Appropriate institutional arrangements shall be established at all levels within the state and beyond up to an inter-state  river-basin, to obviate and/or resolve emerging inter-state river-water disputes through negotiations, conciliation or mediation,  or  other  such  means,  at  the  earliest  stages  before  the  disputes become acute, so as to avoid recourse to adjudication as far as possible.
  • Existing   water-related   conflicts  or  disputes   shall   be   reviewed  and appropriate action taken in the light of the provisions of this Act.
  •  A National Water Informatics Centre shall be established to collect, collate and  process  hydrologic  data  regularly  from  all  over  the  country,  conduct  the preliminary  processing,  and  maintain it in  open, transparent,  accessible  and user-friendly manner in the IndiaWRIS.  An  appropriate  agency  shall  be  set  up  for  each  river  basin/sub-basin  to collect and collate all data on regular basis with regard to rainfall, river flows, area  irrigated  by  crops  and  by  source,  utilisations  for  various  uses  by  both surface  and  ground  water.

 

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