Punjab: State nod for groundwater authority with no power to regulate tariff

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |

Published: December 6, 2019 1:08:37 am

The authority would solely find a way to situation tariff order and instructions on groundwater extraction for industrial and industrial use. File

The Punjab Cabinet Wednesday gave its approval for creation of a relatively diluted model the Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority (PWRA) that might not be empowered to situation tariff order or situation instructions on groundwater extraction for home and agriculture use of water.

The authority would solely find a way to situation tariff order and instructions on groundwater extraction for solely industrial and industrial use. Most of the underground water is getting used for offering consuming water in cities and rural areas apart from for agriculture use. Over 14 lakh tubewells extract water from aquifers within the state. Fears have already been expressed that Punjab would go dry in 20 years.

The new model of authority is being seen as bypassing of Central Ground Water Authority’s pointers that gives for each state to have its personal authority that might guarantee stringent steps to restrict use of water in view of acquifers drying up quick due to over exploitation.

Giving in to the objection by a number of ministers, representing city areas, the state authorities has amended its authentic plan of creating the authority accountable for impose restrictions or tariff on extraction of water for consuming and home functions. Originally, it had not included agriculture within the area of the authority.

The authorities initially needed the PWRA to be empowered to situation the tariff order however former Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu had objected to it. While Sidhu is no extra within the Cabinet however the resolution was made within the Cabinet in Ashu’s presence. Ashu advised The Indian Express that with the authority not been given the powers to improve the tariff, he had no issues with the choice. Ashu’s argument has been that he represents an city constituency and with an authority deciding on water tariff, the vote financial institution of city MLAs can be affected.

For organising the authority, the federal government will probably be promulgating an ordinance referred to as the Punjab Water Resources (Management and Regulation) Ordinance, 2019. After the organising of authority, the trade wouldn’t be required to search clearance from Central Groundwater Authority, that used to delay a number of initiatives. The industries would find a way to get the required clearances from the state authority solely.

A press release by the federal government after the Cabinet assembly stated that the proposed laws is aimed toward improvement, administration and regulation of water assets of the state for making certain their considered, equitable and sustainable utilization and administration.

“The Authority would be empowered to issue general directions related to extraction and use of ground water, besides ensuring optimal and efficient utilization of all water resources in the State, including canal irrigation. It will also issue guidelines on recycling and reuse of water and its conservation.” it added.

Further, the Authority would have the precise to impose monetary penalties upon non-compliance of its orders or instructions. It has been vested with the powers of a Civil Court, and would even be required to current an annual report which might be laid on the ground of the House by the federal government, disclosed the spokesperson.

Chief Minister Amarinder Sigh has been in favour of the authority stating it was crucial for a state that was going through water disaster. The authorities has already signed an settlement with Israel’s National Water Agency, Mekorot, to assist the state put together a complete plan for extra environment friendly and sustainable use of the state’s water assets.

The proposed Authority could have a chairperson, who can be an individual with capacity and demonstrable expertise within the area of water and its administration with a sound understanding of public administration, legislation and economics. In addition, it’ll have two members who can be specialists drawn from Water assets or related areas of finance, legislation, agriculture and economics. An Advisory Committee of 5 specialists would supply help, as required, to the Authority in its work, stated the spokesperson.

The authorities shall represent a Selection Committee headed by Chief Secretary and consisting of at the very least two different members, to advocate the names of the Chairperson and members. The chairperson or different members shall maintain workplace for a time period, as could also be specified, however not exceeding 5 years at a time, from the date on which he enters upon his workplace, supplied that no particular person shall function chairperson or different members for greater than two phrases.

As per the draft laws, the federal government may additionally appoint a serving or retired officer who has labored on a publish equal to the rank of Special Secretary to the Government of Punjab or larger, as Secretary of the Authority, with tenure of three years and extendable by one other two.

The draft laws additionally supplies for a State Council for Water Management & Development, headed by the Chief Minister and comprising Water Resources Minister, Local Government Minister, Water Supply & Sanitation Minister, Rural Development Minister, Finance Minister, Industry Minister and Power Minister. The Council can be tasked to approve the State Water Plan, which might be based mostly on built-in Water Plans to be ready for each block.

The Council would additionally approve the State Water Policy and all different insurance policies associated to use and re-use of water within the State. The proposed regulatory Authority can be accountable for implementation of the State Water Plan, in accordance to the spokesperson.

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