States oppose Centre framework on water resources

As it convened a meeting of the National Water Resources Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, on Wednesday to discuss the proposed National Water Policy, one of the Central government's key suggestions in the draft document — to evolve a broad overarching national water framework law — was objected to by "quite a few states", including two Congress-ruled ones.

Among the states which objected to such a framework at a meeting of the state irrigation and water resources ministers were Kerala and Haryana.

Kerala Water Resources Minister P J Joseph made it clear that "an overarching national legal framework is not essential since the Constitution and existing legal provisions are sufficient to address issues related to the water sector".

Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told the state ministers that the Centre has no intention to impinge on the states' functions and rights.

A meeting of the National Water Resources Council — which has all the chief ministers as its members — is scheduled to take place on October 30 to discuss the draft of the National Water Policy, which has already been revised twice after criticism that the initial draft focused more on privatisation and commercialisation of water resources and gave priority to industrial needs.

The Centre's proposal to set up a permanent national forum of state water resources ministers to periodically "deliberate upon issues relating to water and evolve consensus, cooperation and reconciliation amongst states" got the "green signal" from the state ministers.

Central team to visit TN, Karnataka today

Amid protests against the release of Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu in Karnataka on Wednesday, a high-level Central team will visit the two states on Thursday. The team, led by Water Resources Secretary Dhruv Vijai Singh, will meet officials of both the states to get a first-hand account of reservoir levels, standing crops, and water flow. The visit comes ahead of next week's meeting of the Cauvery Monitoring Committee, which is expected to discuss the water-sharing row.

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