Draft Bill seeks right to water, 25 litres daily for each

Water BillWhile noting that the government remains the trustee of water resources, the draft bill gives it the flexibility of roping in a "private agency" for "some of the functions of the state". Reuters photo

The Centre on Monday unveiled the draft of its contentious National Water Framework Bill which seeks to provide "right to water", while stating that water allocation and pricing should be based on "economic principles".

"Every individual has a right to a minimum quantity of potable water for essential health and hygiene and within easy reach of the household," states the draft. "The minimum quantity of potable water shall not be less than 25 litres per capita per day," it says, adding that the quantity must be fixed by the "appropriate government".

"The state's responsibility for ensuring people's right to water shall remain despite corporatisation or privatisation of water services, and the privatisation of the service, where considered necessary and appropriate, shall be subject to this provision," says the draft bill, which also mandates that governments should specify the "quality standards" of water supply for various uses like drinking, livestock, irrigation and industries among others.

While noting that the government remains the trustee of water resources, the draft bill gives it the flexibility of roping in a "private agency" for "some of the functions of the state". In this context, it stipulates that "allocation and pricing" should be based "on economic principles to ensure its development costs", and "so that water is not wasted in unnecessary uses and... utilised more gainfully and water infrastructure projects are made financially viable."

For this purpose, "an independent statutory water regulatory authority shall be established by every state for ensuring equitable access to water for all, and its fair pricing for drinking and other uses such as sanitation, agricultural and industrial," it says, adding that the decision of this authority will be subject to judicial review.

The regulatory authority will be entrusted with fixing the water price and its periodical review, and formulating a "principle of differential pricing for water for drinking and sanitation".

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