Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said the national legal framework on water resources envisaged by the Centre wouldn’t encroach on the rights of states. Currently, India’s institutional and legal structures on water were inadequate, fragmented and needed reform, Singh said at a meeting of the National Water Resources Council.
“It is in this context that a suggestion has been made for a national legal framework of general principles on water, which, in turn, would pave the way for essential legislation on water governance in every state,” Singh said.
He stressed the framework would be an umbrella statement of general principles governing the exercise of legislative, executive or devolved powers by the Centre, the states and local governing bodies. “The government does not wish to encroach, in any manner, upon the constitutionally guaranteed rights of states or to centralise water management,” he said.
“With about 18 per cent of the world’s population but only four per cent of its usable fresh water, India already faces scarcity of water, which is a vital and stressed natural resource,” Singh said, adding rapid economic growth and urbanisation were widening the demand-supply gap and worsening India’s water-stress index.
Urging an integrated approach, he said water resources planning at the basin level, conservation of water, preservation of river corridors, recharging of aquifers and their sustainable management and improving water-use efficiency were among the broad areas that needed immediate attention.