The government will consider a suggestion to bring water from the concurrent list to the central list to resolve disputes arising from water-sharing between states, Union minister for water resources, Uma Bharti, told Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Responding to the suggestion by JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav, Bharti said the Centre will start work on the issue that has been informally discussed but not publicised as it is sensitive. She was speaking at a short-discussion debate in the Upper House on severe water crisis exacerbated by drought conditions across several states. Members urged the government to take long-term steps, such as bringing water to central list and giving impetus to irrigation projects.
Referring to the water crisis, Yadav said moving water to the central list would help conserve it and effectively resolve disputes related to rivers between states. He also sought a ban on dam construction in the Himalayas. Members underlined farmers’ suicides and migration as consequences of the crisis and stressed the need for immediate redress from the Centre, including expediting release of funds to affected states.
Initiating the short-duration discussion on the issue, BJD’s AU Singh Deo said data consolidated by Centre showed that around 33 crore people in 254 districts of 10 states were affected by the drought . “The number will possibly increase. Perhaps Bihar and Haryana have not yet declared drought despite shortage of rainfall,” he said. Deo He added that the government should consider creating a new ministry to address problems of climate change.
NCP’s Sharad Pawar criticised agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh’s comments that water was being provided to sugar mills in Maharashtra, one of the worst affected states. “We must rise above political lines and face the situation together,” he said .
Rajni Patil of the Congress said that Marathwada was now called “tankerwada” as water only came through tankers.