Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, speaking at the National Water Resources Council Meeting here on Friday, said “none of the present laws are able to establish a just water regime to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders,’’ clearly hinting at Karnataka’s current dispute with Tamil Nadu over the Cauvery river water sharing dispute.
However, Union Water Resource Minister Harish Rawat, playing down the antagonistic stand adopted by the states, including Congress-ruled Haryana, SP-ruled UP, Akali-ruled Punjab and Trinamool Congress-ruled West Bengal said that after “elongated discussions there were broader consensus’’ on the issues of community management of water resource, climate change adaptation strategy, water harvesting structures, etc.
“We have also proposed consideration of a National Policy Guidelines for water allocation in the next meeting of the Council,’’ Rawat said, making it sound all very positive. But under flak from the state governments, the Centre backed off on the proposed National Water Framework law and the law on River Basin Management. Rawat admitted that the states have been promised these legislations will be drafted “only after extensive consultations with them.’’ The powers of the states, he repeatedly clarified, “are not to be curtailed in any manner.’’
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presiding over the sixth meeting of the Council said the National Water Policy has tried to ‘focus on the human cause in water sector’’ and aims to ‘lay a road map for a paradigm shift’’ in the use and management of water resources. But the salient point was the assurance he sought to give to the irate State governments that the Centre will not encroach on their rights.