Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday amended the controversial Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory bill following strong objections by Congress legislators.
The amendment will ensure that the irrigation water first goes to the agriculture rather than to the industry.
Earlier, the bill, which was passed at the behest of the Nationalist Congress Party, gave priority to industry in allocation of water from the dams, and gave the rights to allocate it to a committee of ministers headed by the irrigation and water resources minister.
The allocation rights are now with the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority.
Chavan told the Legislative Council on Wednesday: “We have reviewed the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory bill and decided that the water of dams will be first for drinking, then agriculture and finally to industry. Also, the water allocation rights will now be the state cabinet.”
The CM also said he had talks with legislators from Vidarbha and Konkan. “Industries can use recycled water that will come in from sources such as agriculture,” Chavan said.
Irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare said the decision was based on the recommendations made by the SG Barve commission set up in 1960.
But there are a few riders. The new law removes the provision where allocation of water is made only through a public hearing. It also does not allow decisions taken by the ministers on water allocation to be challenged in court.