The Central Government has brought final draft of the National Water Framework Bill, 2016 to provide uniform national legal framework to manage water in a better and efficient way The comprehensive draft Bill proposes model law for all states. However, water being a State subject under VII Schedule of constitution the law will be not binding on States for adoption.
Need for Framework:
The water shortage problem is escalating and country has witnessed acute drought situation in certain parts. In future, such situations may increase backdrop of climate change. Besides, presently in absence of institutional arrangement there are inter-state water disputes because states do not their contributions to a river’s catchment area to resolve conflicts.
Key Features of Bill:
• Every person has a right to sufficient quantity of safe water for life within easy reach of the household regardless of his/her socio-economic factors.
• All basin states have equitable rights over the use of river water provided such use does not violate the right to water for life of any person in the river basin.
• States must recognise the principle that the rivers are public trustees and not owned by the basin-States.
• All the basin States are equal in rights and status, and there is no hierarchy of rights among them. Here equality of rights means not equal but equitable shares in river waters.
• Managing water at river basin-level and right measurement of State’s contribution to river system to in order to resolve conflicts.
• Establishing River Basin Authority (RBA) for each inter-State basin to ensure optimum and sustainable development of rivers and valleys.
• Establishing institutional arrangements to deal with inter-state water disputes in order to “obviate” disputes through negotiations, mediation or conciliation.
• Proposes other mechanisms such as National water quality and footprint standards, Integrated river basin development and management plan and Graded pricing system.