Badal opposes water regulatory authority

Opposing establishment of a water regulatory authority, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Friday said that any revision in the national water policy should be based on the existing constitutional provisions and universally accepted riparian principles. Participating in the deliberations at the 6th meeting of the National Water Resources Council chaired by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here, Badal said water was a state subject under the Constitution and the states have exclusive power of legislation on it.

Expressing strong reservations over the establishment of a water tariff system and a water regulatory authority under the draft National Water Policy-2012, the Chief Minister opposed the move, saying these should be left to the states for taking appropriate decision. Badal asserted that Punjab being an agrarian state was opposed to the concept of integrated planning and management of river basins and setting up of basin authorities by legislation.

"Without prejudice to our consistent stand on riparian rights, principles of equitable distribution of water should be well-defined," he said, adding that existing usage and future needs of water of a state be protected as otherwise it would directly affect the growth of the state.

The Chief Minister said water was a critical issue and tragic conflicts in the country were a result of mishandling of this sensitive issue. He lamented that a major part of 'Punjab tragedy', for which the entire country had to pay a big price, was due to the Centre's refusal to address the river waters issue along just and internationally and nationally accepted riparian principle.

He said the contribution made by each basin state to the catchment area of a river should be the main criterion for apportionment of water. Citing the Irrigation Commission Report, 1972, which observed that the drainage area of Punjab in the Indus basin is three times that of Rajasthan and five times that of Haryana, Badal rued that yet Punjab was allocated only 25 per cent share in Ravi-Beas waters as Rajasthan and Haryana were allocated about 50 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.

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