The Y.K. Alagh panel, instituted to draft recommendations for the National Water Framework Act, has suggested that the government provide citizens with a minimum level of water security, akin to food security.

While food security under the proposed Food Security Bill will be limited to an “identified” 67 per cent of the population, the (drinking) water security is proposed to be fixed at 25 litres per person per day.

Just as the implementation of the public distribution system has been left to States, the Alagh committee recommended that there be different slabs of water pricing under the proposed NWFA for States. The panel has suggested that the Below-Poverty-Line population could get a certain quantity of drinking water free while other beneficiaries should be charged.

How should this be done and what measures should be taken to make adequate quantities of water available to meet requirements would be left to the ingenuity of State governments.

Water forum to meet

The first meeting of the newly-formed National Forum of Water Resources and Irrigation Ministers will be held here on Wednesday to discuss the controversial NWFA as also the issues of setting up River Basin Organisations. Several State governments have in the past objected to both the proposal — as being an infringement of their rights — and the imposition of central laws on them.

The meeting, to be chaired by Rajasthan Water Resources Minister Mahipal Maderna, will also discuss the framing of national policy guidelines for sharing/distribution of water amongst States.

The national forum has been formed to seek the participation of States in evolving new water policies and laws in keeping with water sector reforms.

It is to be chaired by States’ Irrigation Ministers by rotation. Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat will make opening remarks.

The meeting is a closed door affair and the media have not been invited.

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