Rajasthan mulls law to provide water to every individual, fine polluters
Rajasthan is mulling a new law to provide 70 litres of water every day to an individual in the state and a jail term of one and a half years or a fine of Rs 1 lakh or both for any violation of the law, a government official said Tuesday.
The draft of the Rajasthan Water (Conservation, Protection and Regulation) Bill is ready and is under consideration of the government. “The Bill will soon go to the cabinet for approval before it is presented in the Assembly,” the official of the water resources department (WRD) said.
Once enacted, Rajasthan will be the first state in India to have a law to ensure minimum water supply to every household.
According to the draft bill, a copy of which is with HT, every person has the fundamental right to be provided basic water for leading a healthy and dignified life, and the quantity of basic water shall in no case be less than 70 litres per capita per day of groundwater and/ or surface water. It also ensures providing quality water supply to people as per norms set by the state government.
The proposed law also provides for a comprehensive grievance redress mechanism which includes appointment of a grievance redress officer (WGRO) in every block and municipality, where people can lodge complaints for deficiency water supply. Every district will have a ‘nyaya mitra’ to assist WGROs, says the draft of the law.
Under the new system, the municipal water committee shall be responsible for ensuring that every household’s waste water is treated and recycled where possible before final disposal. In villages, the panchayat water committee will have the same responsibility.
The proposed law says any activity affecting the quality or availability of water shall be punished with imprisonment and/or fine. On repeat offence, the penalty will double.
The draft bill says conservation, protection and regulation of surface water and groundwater shall be taken in an integrated manner, including on land and in forests. “Water shall be protected from such impacts that affect the equity of access and sustainability of the resource,” the draft says.
The proposed law calls for a water security plan for conservation and augmentation measures, socially equitable use and regulation of water. The State Water Advisory Council will endorse and notify these plans.
The State Water Advisory Council is expected to prepare integrated state water security plan on the basis of district water security plans with the help of line departments. The council shall also be responsible for standardization of dam safety data and practices.
The state government shall ensure that the availability of water for different uses does not adversely affect the aquatic ecosystems that depend on the same water resources, the draft Bill says. The proposed law also talks about mapping and management of aquifers in the state.
BJP leader and legislator, Satish Poonia, said any effort by the state government to conserve water was a welcome step. “However, instead of penalty, the government should focus on raising awareness and involving community in conservation of water,” he said.
Poonia also said that following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for water conservation in his Mann Ki Baat last Sunday, BJP workers and leaders are taking oath in party meetings to neither waste nor let anyone else waste water.
Water conservationist Rajendra Singh said penalty for wasting and polluting water was a revolutionary step in the interest of the state. “Why just Rajasthan, every state should make wastage and pollution of waste a criminal act. Those who waste water are killers of nature and human beings,” said the “waterman of India”, who has won the Magsaysay Award in 2001 and Stockholm Water Prize in 2015.