Amidst the tussle between the Centre and States to bring in an overarching framework of water laws, the Union Water Resources Ministry on Monday sought public comments on its draft National Water Framework Bill, 2013, as well the draft River Basin Management Bill. Both seek to set up a river basin authority each for the management of 12 major river basins in the country.
The Ministry had floated these recommendations in a small group of States where almost all participantssuggested that it be presentedto all State governments.
Howeverseveral states have objected to an overarching framework of law as an infringement of their rights and the government has instead sought public comments on these issues.
The draft River Basin Management Bill, which seeks to amend the defunct Rivers Board Act of 1956, provides for integrated planning, and development and management of water resources. The Bill proposes a two-tier structure for a River Basin Authority comprising a political Governing Council and an official-level Executive Board. .
The Council will not only make River Master Plans but will also enable basin states to come to an agreement for implementation of the Plans. The Authority will make its own regulations. If a dispute cannot not be settled, then it will be referred to a tribunal under the Inter State Water Disputes Act, 1956 for adjudication.
The bill proposes river basin authorities for 12 basins including Brahamani-Baitarini, Cauvery, Ganga, Godavari, Indus, Krishna, Mahanadi, Mahi, Narmada, Pennar, Subarnreakha and Tapi.
The draft National Water Framework Billprovides for a minimum quantity of 25 litres per capita per day potable water, preservations of water quality in all rivers and a mechanism for principles and mechanisms for fixation of water prices.
People and stakeholders can offer their comments on the draft Bills by July 31 on firstname.lastname@example.org.