Over five years back, Ashok Chawla committee had recommended putting water in the concurrent list. Discussions are till today going on
GN Bureau | January 13, 2017
Union minister Uma Bharti on Friday said that the centre is discussing the issue of bringing water into concurrent list with states.
To place water in the concurrent list is a proposal which is over five-years old. In fact, the Ashok Chawla committee on Allocation of Natural Resources had recommended placing water in the concurrent list.
“The legislative framework for usage of water is characterized in India by a multiplicity of principles and rules and a multiplicity of institutions. Thus, there is lack of an overall integrated system of water management, which can harmonize various aspects of water use, the primary being that of life-support. The committee feels that there is urgent need to have a comprehensive national legislation on water. This can be either done through bringing water under the Concurrent List and then framing the appropriate legislation; or, by obtaining consensus from a majority of the States that such a “framework law” is necessary and desirable as a Central enactment,” said the Ashok Chawla committee in 2011.
The committee had also noted: “The national legislation should clarify a common position on a number of issues, e.g., need to consider all water resources as a conjunctive, unified whole; water as a common property resource; principles of allocations and pricing and so on. The proposed framework is not meant to confer administrative authority on the central government, by way of issuing licenses and clearances. What is intended is a kind of umbrella legislation under which laws will be enacted, policies framed, rules and orders issued, and executive decisions and actions taken, at different levels. Those laws, policies, actions, etc, will have to conform to the provisions of the umbrella legislation, and the legislation itself will of course be justiciable.”
In India, parliament can legislate on subjects of the Union List and those subjects of the Concurrent List. Since water falls in the State List, all Acts and Bills regarding its use and monitoring lie with the state. The government requires two-thirds majority in parliament to shift a subject from the State to the Concurrent List.
In 2012, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had written a letter to any proposed plan to transfer subject of water from State list to Concurrent list. Badal asked the Centre to desist from the move, saying "what was required at this stage was the resolution of the Inter-State Water issues harmoniously in accordance with the nationally and internationally accepted Riparian Principle".
Uma Bharti, union minister for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, said on Friday that her ministry is also seriously working on new acts for water use and Ganga.
She said, “We may have to take active help from NGOs to strengthen these (water user) associations as active and performing water user associations are very important for the success of AIBP-PMKSY.
Referring to inter-linking of rivers, she said 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 very much hopeful to start 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-Godavari link and called it as “Mother link” of inter-linking of rivers in the country.
Read: Ashok Chawla Committee on Allocation of Natural Resources
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