Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Wednesday said there was need for general consensus and cooperative federalism on sharing of river waters.

Inaugurating a seminar on ‘Inter-linking of Rivers: Issues and Challenges,’ he said transfer of water from surplus river basins to deficit ones was an effective way of increasing the irrigation potential for enhancing grains production, mitigating floods and droughts and reducing regional imbalances in water availability.

“Lots of benefits by way of additional irrigation, domestic and industrial water supply, hydropower generation, navigational facilities etc would accrue.’’

The Minister bemoaned that while people were “okay with the water going waste,’’ they are not receptive to the idea of sitting across the table to discuss the issue of inter-basin transfer.

“We are not even prepared to sit across the table to discuss issues and see how best we can utilise this for the mutual benefit of the entire populace of the country,’’ he said.

Minister of State for Water Vincent Pala said a price had to be placed on water for pre-emptive and high priority uses. “Over and above uses such as for sustaining life and ecosystem, for ensuring food security and livelihoods of the poor, water should increasingly be subjected to allocation and pricing on economic principles.’’

Water Resources Secretary Dhruv Vijai Singh pointed out that sometimes States with abundant water resources portrayed themselves as water scarce when it came to inter-basin transfer.

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