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Special cell to woo private sector in water management

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Nov. 19

THE Union Government on Friday announced creation of a special cell in the Water Resources Ministry to attract private sector participation in water management and fine-tune the National Water Policy.

The cell would strive to attract private sector to come up with innovative projects in the water sector, the Water Resources Minister, Mr Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, said while inaugurating the `Water Summit' organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Ministry of Water Resources.

Mr Dasmunsi listed the Water Ministry's priority in the next financial year, which included setting up of a special cell for speedy clearance of private water projects, making rainwater harvesting mandatory prior to environmental clearance and persuading States to contribute their share to central schemes, according to a release.

Giving details of the fresh thinking in the Government on tackling water shortage in the country, Mr Dasmunsi said that it was necessary to revisit the National Water Policy to accord higher priority to public-private participation issues of water. This would be done next week in consultation with the Prime Minister.

The Ministry was considering an in-built mechanism whereby rainwater harvesting would become an integral part of the responsibility of a company, he added.

Dr Kirit S. Parikh, Member, Planning Commission, called for devising a pricing system whereby user changes could be levied without ignoring the need to meet the basic minimum water demands of the poor at a low cost. He recommended designing of a water rights policy whereby Panchayats could be given the right to levy an appropriate price and spend the proceeds on community welfare projects.

Mr V.K. Duggal, Secretary, Water Resources, said two major issues of concern were overexploitation in certain pockets and deterioration of the quality of water. Although there are strict environmental laws in the country to prohibit the discharge of below standard quality in water bodies their proper implementation has not been possible.

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