KARNATAKA

State plans water regulatory authority

S. Rajendran

‘It will have a major role to play in both water usage and prevention of floods’



Bill likely to be tabled in the next session

of the legislature

State has 4,000 tmcft of freshwater resources, of which only around 1,000 tmcft is now utilised



Bangalore: The State Government is in the process of constituting a Karnataka Water Regulatory Authority, similar to the water and electricity authorities in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who is now in the United States, is stated to have given the green signal for the introduction of a mechanism that would help in optimum use of available water resources in the State — surface and groundwater — apart from implementing schemes which would help in preventing floods.

The Krishna basin in Karnataka is more prone to floods than the Cauvery basin. The concept of constituting a water management authority was first mooted by Minister for Water Resources (Major and Medium Irrigation) Basavaraj Bommai, who has carried out a detailed study on integrated water management.

Committee

Mr. Bommai told The Hindu that the formation of a water management body was under way and as a part of this effort, the Chief Minister would constitute a core committee of Ministers, officials and experts to prepare a draft Bill. In all likelihood, the Bill would be placed before the legislature during its next session for approval.

He said: “the authority can be constituted only through an enactment. The authority will have a major role to play in both water usage and prevention of floods. To prevent floods, a programme of linking all the water bodies in the State will have to be launched. It will also bring all water consumers — farm sector (irrigation), industries and domestic users — under one fold. The available water has to be proportionately distributed to all regions of the State.”

Advice

Sources in the State Secretariat said that the State Government would also seek the advice of experts in the Union Ministry of Water Resources, apart from those in Maharashtra and Gujarat to incorporate certain novel features. “With water increasingly becoming scarce we have to work out ways of preserving freshwater. The State has nearly 4,000 tmcft of freshwater resources, of which only around 1,000 tmcft is presently utilised, and even in this there is a lot of wastage. In other words, there is more water emptying into the sea than that is being used.”

Policy-makers in the field of water management have, however, told the Government to refrain from constituting a regulatory authority and instead prefer a Water Resources Development Authority.

The argument is that a regulatory mechanism is required only when private players come into the picture. That is, a regulator is required to take care of the interests of the common man and in this case the farmers.

The State Government has also obtained a copy of the legislation governing the Water Regulatory Authority enacted in Maharashtra.

Incidentally, the Maharashtra legislation was passed in 2005, apparently on the directions of the World Bank which was funding several drinking water and irrigation schemes in that State.

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