Experts reject draft water policy
Speakers gave the thumbs down to the draft National Water Policy during a seminar organised at Kisan Bhawan here on Saturday. The event was jointly organised by the Bharti Kisan Union (Sidhupur-Ekta) and IDPchandigarh Updated: Feb 26, 2012 14:32 IST
Speakers gave the thumbs down to the draft National Water Policy during a seminar organised at Kisan Bhawan here on Saturday. The event was jointly organised by the Bharti Kisan Union (Sidhupur-Ekta) and the Internationalist Democratic Party (IDP).
GS Dhillon, former chief engineer, irrigation, Punjab, said 70% of the irrigation in the state was being done by drawing groundwater through 14 lakh tube wells sunk by farmers themselves. Dhillon said the proposed policy was intended to impose an official control on the use of groundwater, adding that the installation of new tubewells would be allowed only after official permission.
The union government has circulated a draft water policy to the states and sought their views, which are to be submitted to the union water resources ministry by February 29.
Another expert, former Punjab bureaucrat Pritam Singh Kumedaan, said the Centre had already robbed Punjab of its river waters through fraudulent agreements and official diktats. The new policy would further erode Punjab’s control over river waters, which was already diluted through the Water Dispute Amendment Act, 2002, he added.
Pishore Singh Sidhupur, BKU (Sidhupur-Ekta) president, said the political leadership of Punjab had failed to protect the state’s water resources from being ‘plundered’ by neighbouring states and the Centre.
More than half of Punjab’s river waters has been taken away by the non-riparian state of Rajasthan without paying a single penny as royalty, he alleged.
Social activist Hamir Singh said the proposed policy would weaken the Indian federal set-up and lead to more centralisation of powers, reducing the states to mere municipal committees in essence.
The policy is also aimed at throwing open the waters to the control of corporates and multinational companies, he added. Kheti Virasat Mission executive director Umendra Dutt and All India Kissan Sabha leader Bhupinder Sambhar were among the others who spoke at the seminar.
Prof Manjit Singh from Panjab University, Chandigarh, suggested the formation of a People’s Water Commission to document the ‘snatching’ of water resources from states by the Centre. Experts expressed concern over the Centre’s fresh initiative to enact a new legislation for taking control of river waters and groundwater - hitherto a state subject.