Policy

MPs want water be brought under Concurrent list

Press Trust of India New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on July 12, 2012

"Near unanimity" in Consultative Committee on Water Resources, say reports

Amid inter-State disputes on water sharing, members of a Parliamentary Standing Committee have supported the idea of putting water in the Concurrent List of Constitution to help the Centre have a greater say in settling feuds. Water, at present, is a State subject.

There was “near unanimity” among members of Consultative Committee on Water Resources to bring water in the Concurrent List to ensure that the Centre has a greater say in resolving disputes, sources said.

The Committee, headed by Water Resources Minister, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, met here on Wednesday in which members supported the idea with some “safeguards” to protect the interests of the States.

While the Centre supported the idea, the Ashok Chawla Committee on Management of Natural Resources had recommended bringing water to either the Union List or the Concurrent List. The Centre is learnt to be supportive of the recommendation of the Chawla panel.

“Water is a national resource, therefore, the State governments should not have the sole right over it,” a member said after the meeting.

Another member said it would be better if there are certain “safeguards” to protect the interests of the State while bringing water to the Concurrent List.

Last year, a top representative of the Ministry had told the Standing Committee on Water Resources, “It (water) should be brought under the Union List...If not in the Union List, at least in the Concurrent list“.

The Ministry official was asked to comment on the “desirability” of effecting Constitutional amendment with regard to water which figures in the State List (entry 17), Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

The Standing Committee, looking into the issue of depleting ground water levels, had urged the Centre to build national consensus on putting water in either the Union List or Concurrent List so that a comprehensive plan can be prepared for conservation.

The change would entail a Constitution amendment.

While water supplies, irrigation and canals, drainage and embankments and storage fall in the State List, issues like development of inter-State rivers come under the Union List.

During Wedesday’s Consultative Committee meeting, several other suggestions were made, including recognising water as national resource, popularising micro irrigation, prioritising water needs of people living in water—deficit areas, promoting rainwater harvesting and preventing wastage of water flowing into sea.

Some members called for identifying water-stressed States and giving them special status for Central assistance.

Published on July 12, 2012
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