The first major consultation process of the Water Resources Ministry on issues such as interlinking of rivers and Ganga rejuvenation will start here on Thursday.

The meeting, convened by Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharti, will be attended by the Water Resources Ministers of all States, senior State and Central officials, civil society organisations and activists working on water-related issues.

The three-day programme, titled Jal Manthan, will include wide-ranging consultations with States, said an official statement. “The focus will be on refining policies of the Ministry to make them more people-friendly and responsive to the needs of the States,” it added.

States that are critical to the inter-linking projects, are likely to raise their concerns.

“No inter-linking issue should be taken up unless there is a consensus,” Water Resources Minister of Kerala PJ Joseph told BusinessLine . He said he will make suggestions on proper implementation of Centrally-sponsored programmes in the meeting.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu will address the meeting on the second day. Special representative of the Andhra Pradesh Government in Delhi K Rammohan Rao said that Naidu is likely to raise issues such as the Polavaram project and other matters with the Centre during the meeting.

On the first day of the meeting, there will be discussions on flagship schemes such as the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme, Repair, Renovation and Restoration of Water Bodies and Flood Management Programme. “New proposals, such as incentivising States for water sector reforms, India Water Resources Information System and Hydrology Project III, would also be introduced,” the Ministry release said. The programme, according to the Ministry, will be a platform for raising concerns on implementation of various projects, State and Central.

Water management

On the second day, the discussion will be on the Government’s ambitious project of inter-linking of rivers.

“It is proposed to deliberate on various aspects of inter-linking as the programme has evoked strong reactions from civil society and environment groups. The event will provide a platform to address the concerns and clarify issues raised by them,” the Ministry said.

On the third day, the Minister will hold consultations with civil society and non-governmental organisations as well as water user communities on the broader issues of water conservation and management.