Ravi S Singh
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 21
Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria has expressed concern over increasing water conflicts in the country, while presiding over a review meeting of the Central Water Commission.
He lauded CWC’s premier role in country efforts to better manage water resources.
Kataria’s concern over water conflicts was in the context of water disputes among states often degenerating into an emotive and political issue.
Consequently, the disputes become long drawn and defy amicable resolutions.
A number of states are involved in long-standing disputes on waters of inter-state rivers.
Dispute on Ravi-Beas waters between Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, and on Cauvery waters between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry are among the major inter-state disputes.
Taking note of Kataria’s concerns, CWC officials informed him during the meeting that the water conflicts would be resolved expeditiously following passage the Inter-State Water River Disputes (ISWRD) Amendment Bill which is pending in Parliament.
The proposals of the Bill, which seeks to amend the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 include streamlining the process for speedy, time-bound, and permanent resolution of the disputes.
The officials underlined that the passage of ISWRD Bill and the Dam Safety Bill was important for a holistic management of water resources in the country.
Kataria was informed that there will be better water management by formation of river basin organisations.
Also, 79 new flood forecasting stations have been made operational in the last one year.
Consequently, 11,721 forecasts were issued in the year 2020 from 328 forecasting stations set up across 19 river basins.
Recurring floods caused by Brahmaputra river also figured in the meeting. A need was expressed for setting up a project at Upper Siang/Brahmaputra which shall be highly beneficial for the state of Assam.
Regarding alleged plans of China to set up a super hydropower station at Brahmaputra at Medong, Tibet, Kataria was apprised that any attempt to divert water of Brahmaputra shall act as an encroachment on the entitled rights of lower riparian states like India and Bangladesh.
It would adversely affect the availability of water in the Brahmaputra basin during the lean season.
The meeting, however, took note that there are official platforms — like the Expert Level Mechanism — set up between India and China in the year 2006 to discuss various issues related to trans-border rivers.